SUN RECORDS delivers a moment we’ve been waiting for when Elvis records his first hit in “Who They Were Meant to Be.” Six episodes in, two left in the season, is the perfect time to have a little fun, unless we’re talking about Becky. At first, she calls Marion, her trusty friend, for guidance on names for their new baby. Sam records a spot for “Easy Pop” with Scotty Moore and Bill Black, but he has extra session time and asks them to record a song written by the Prisonaires. Moore and Black like the song, but neither of them are lead vocal material. Sam asks Marion to get someone in quick, someone who can carry a tune.
Marion calls Elvis who is excited and hurries into the studio. However, he’s nervous and pitchy with the song. Sam does his best to calm Elvis down. Moore and Black like Elvis, but they feel like it’s a waste of time. Before they are out the door completely, Elvis starts singing his version of “Blue Moon of Kentucky.” Sam likes what he hears and asks Moore and Black to stay and complete another session.
Sam rushes the record over to Dewey, who is on thin ice on his first day back from his suspension. Still, Dewey doesn’t have it in him to play it safe, he plays the track. People immediately respond, the station switchboard lights up with calls. Everyone wants to know who the singer is, but Dewey doesn’t know, Sam rushed a record with no label. The important thing is, this is the sound Sam’s been waiting for. Marion and Dewey agree Elvis is a fantastic discovery. Dewey questions him on the radio, live, where his shy nature works as a huge advantage. This is that moment where Elvis is really born. He both takes the world by storm and gets caught up in a world that ends up crushing him. This is the moment that sparks the whole ride.
Sam wants to tour Elvis and create a real demand for his record but he’s lean on funds and Elvis, just nineteen, needs the permission of his parents to hit the road. Sam pitches to Vernon and Gladys. Gladys wants Elvis to be happy and supports the dream, but Vernon is his usual angry pickle. Sam treads carefully and eventually gets them both to sign. Marion plays much harder-ball to get Earle to let her take a week off to hit the road with Sam and Elvis. Marion loves Sam, but she also really likes Earle. She’s giving him an honest shot and they make dinner planes for her return.
The tour gets off to a shaky start. Most disc jockeys won’t play Elvis for one reason or another; the recording quality isn’t great or it’s not their kind of programming. It takes a rainy day, a bottle of whiskey, and a little flirting from Marion to get the record a fair play. Becky blows a rod when she finds out Sam mortgaged the house to pay for the trip, but things start to look up when Marion sells a bunch of records to girls swooning over Elvis outside a record store. She gets her first big order from the owner.
It’s a leap in the right direction but Sam knows he needs to find Elvis proper management who can get him on the Grand Ole Opry or the Hayride. Col. Parker is riding a huge losing streak but he gets an idea from a friendly prostitute. Her father sold a track of worthless land to the government for the new highway system. This gives Parker an opportunity, he asks his loan shark, Angelo, for another loan to put up the land money. Angelo won’t lend Parker anymore, in fact, he takes most of what Parker has on hand to bring him current. Then, Angelo goes right to the BLM man and buys the land himself. However, the whole scam was set up by Parker and his friends. Angelo isn’t amused by the con and sends his goons to beat Parker as he bathes.
There still isn’t much movement for the other members of the Million Dollar Quartet. Johnny Cash suffers the loss of his best friend who gets hits by a car while standing on a street corner. This scene is like so many with Cash that appear only to remind us he’s part of the story, the future story anyway. Jerry Lee marries Peggy which upsets Jimmy Swaggart in another place-holding, who-cares scene. Later, we see Peggy telling Jerry Lee all she hopes for their marriage; home, children, and church. Meanwhile, Jerry Lee can’t take his eyes off the chest of every other girl in the soda shop. Sorry Peggy. It’s hard to imagine Jerry Lee and Johnny Cash making big turns for Sun Records in the final two episodes. They must be betting hard on a second season. If they do get another season, they have to do something about the pace.
Season 1, Episode 6 (S01E06)
Sun Records airs Thursdays at 10PM on CMT
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Eric Rodriguez | Contributor