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Saluting the legends of Beale Street

The Beale Street Brass Notes offer a tangible tribute to the many talented people who had put Memphis music and Beale Street on the world map.

Recipients in alphabetic order by last name or group name.

Emerson Able (1931-2015)

Note ceremony 11/14/12. Former band director at Manassas High School and outstanding sax player with a great group, Able spans Memphis music history from Jimmie Lunceford to Isaac Hayes and beyond.

Lamar Alexander (1940- )

The former governor and current senator of Tennessee, Lamar Alexander, is also a classically trained pianist. This benefited Alexander during campaign fundraisers across the state early in his career. A supporter of Memphis music, Alexander has twice performed at the Memphis in May Sunset Symphony.

Lyman Aldrich 

Note ceremony 5/2/2013. Lyman Aldrich is a founder of the Memphis In May International Festival, which has produced the Beale Street Music Festival for 36 years. He is also the founder of Memphis Music, Inc., which brought all of the music studios in Memphis together to promote Memphis music worldwide.

Ardent Studios (founded 1958)

When high school buddies John Fry, John King, and Fred Smith decided to gather up a band and rent a studio in 1958, they were met with a disappointing outcome. Dissatisfied with the studio, Fry converted his parent's garage into his music space. The threesome built their own equipment and eventually picked out a name that would encompass the passion and the spirit they had for their studio: Ardent. While recording the first Big Star album in 1971, Ardent moved to Madison Avenue, where they are still located today. The studio established a name for itself with early classics by Sam & Dave, Led Zeppelin, Isaac Hayes, Leon Russell, and The Staples Singers, then scored hits in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s with such artists as James Taylor, ZZ Top, R.E.M., George Thorogood, The Allman Brothers, Bob Dylan, and Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan. The legacy continues in the new millennium with hits recorded by The White Stripes, 3 Doors Down, Cat Power, North Mississippi Allstars, The Raconteurs, and award-winning music for such films as Hustle and Flow and Black Snake Moan. To date, Ardent has amassed over 70 gold and platinum albums and singles.

Lil' Hardin Armstrong (1898-1971)

Lillian "Lil" Hardin Armstrong was a jazz pianist, composer, arranger, singer, and bandleader. She was the second wife of Louis Armstrong, with whom she collaborated on many recordings in the 1920s. Her compositions include "Struttin' with Some Barbecue," "Don't Jive Me," "Two Deuces," "Knee Drops," "Doin' the Suzie-Q," "Just for a Thrill" (which was a hit when revived by Ray Charles in 1959), "Clip Joint," and "Bad Boy" (a hit for Ringo Starr in 1978). Armstrong was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2014. She was born Lillian Hardin in Memphis, Tennessee, where she grew up in a household with her grandmother, Priscilla Martin, a formerly enslaved person from near Oxford, Mississippi. Hardin first received piano instruction from her third-grade teacher, Violet White. Her mother then enrolled her in Mrs. Hook's School of Music. At Fisk University, a college for African Americans in Nashville, she was taught a more acceptable approach to the instrument. She received a diploma from Fisk, returning to Memphis in 1917. In August 1918, she moved to Chicago with her mother and stepfather. By then, she had become proficient in reading music, a skill that helped her get a job as a sheet music demonstrator at Jones Music Store.

Earl 'The Pearl" Banks (1936- )

Note ceremony 8/3/2013. Veteran bluesman Earl "The Pearl" has played with various notables, including O.V. Wright, Albert King, Koko Taylor, and many more. He has played for over 50 years on Beale Street and truly connects the district to its musical heritage.

The Bar-Kays (formed 1964)

The Bar-Kays, which consisted of guitarist Jimmy King, trumpeter Ben Cauley, organist Ronnie Caldwell, saxophonist Phalon Jones, bassist James Alexander, and drummer Carl Cunningham, were formed in Memphis in 1968. The Bar-Kays caught the attention of Stax Records, which signed them in 1967. After serving as a backup band, the Bar-Kays released their own hit called "Soul Finger." Shortly after that, all the band members except James Alexander and Ben Cauley were tragically killed in the same plane crash that took the life of recording artist Otis Redding. Alexander reformed the Bar-Kays, which backed Isaac Hayes' hit "Hot Buttered Soul." The new group consisted of Alexander on bass, Willie Hall on drums, Winston Stewart on organ, Barry Wilkins and Vernon Burch on guitar, Harvey Henderson on the saxophone, and vocalist Larry Dodson. This group had some success and remained intact until 1988. A third ensemble was assembled in 1990 by Alexander and Dodson. Alexander's son is the award-winning rapper and record producer Phalon "Jazze Pha" Alexander, named after Phalon Jones.

Beale Street Flippers (formed 1988)

The Beale Street Flippers began with Rarecas Bonds. In 1988, Bonds made his way to Beale Street, where the excitement of Memphis in May sent him into a tumbling frenzy. After Bonds started receiving tip money for his flipping, he visited Beale Street daily. Scoring popularity and a cameo appearance in "The Firm," Bonds began encountering competition. Instead of battling his competition, Bonds asked the guys to join him. Over the years, they have performed at many national events, including NBA games and on TV's America's Got Talent.

Robert “Wolfman” Belfour (1940-2015)

He was an American blues musician - born in Red Banks, Mississippi. His father taught him the guitar at a young age, and he continued his tutelage in the blues from musicians Otha Turner, R. L. Burnside, and Junior Kimbrough. Kimbrough, in particular, had a profound influence on him. His music is deeply rooted in Mississippi Hill Country traditions, in contrast to those of delta blues. His playing is characterized by a profoundly percussive attack and alternate tunings. His father died when Belfour was thirteen, and his music was relegated to what free time he had, as his energy went to help his mother provide for the family. In 1959, he married Noreen Norman and moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where he would work in construction for the next 35 years. In the 1980s, Belfour began playing on Beale Street. In 1994, he had eight songs featured on David Evans's compilation album, The Spirit Lives On, Deep South Country Blues, and Spirituals in the 1990s, released by the German Hot Fox label. This led him to Fat Possum Records, and his first album, "What's Wrong With You," released in 2000.

William Bell (1939- )  

Note ceremony 8/5/10. Born in Memphis, Bell began recording with Stax in 1961. A composer of dozens of songs, Bellco wrote "Born Under a Bad Sign" with Albert King and had a hit himself with "I Forgot to be Your Lover," which has been sampled by several artists since. In 1997, he received the Rhythm and Blues Foundation's R&B Pioneer Award.

Big Star (founded 1971)

Note ceremony 11/13/10. The pop power group produced three critically acclaimed albums and included Alex Chilton, Jody Stephens, Andy Hummel, and Chris Bell. An American garage band response to the British invasion, the complex harmonies, and thoughtful lyrics made the band a cult classic.

Bill Black (1926-1965) 

Note ceremony 7/5/2014. Born in Memphis, Bill Black honed his skills playing cigar box guitar as a teen. After a stint in the Army during WWII, Black returned to Memphis and began performing as a bass fiddle player. He connected with Scotty Moore, and they played with several musicians around town. Sam Phillips asked them to back Elvis Presley for a recording session, resulting in "That's Alright Mama." Black toured with Elvis for a few years before leaving to find the Bill Black Combo. He opened a recording studio. The Combo was asked to tour with the Beatles in 1964, although Black was too ill to participate, and he passed away in 1965.

J. Blackfoot (born John Colbert; 1946-2011)

J. Blackfoot was an American soul singer. A member of The Soul Children in the late 1960s and 1970s, he subsequently had a moderately successful solo career. His biggest hit was "Taxi," which reached the US and UK charts in 1984. John Colbert was born in Greenville, Mississippi, and moved with his family as a child to Memphis, Tennessee. Generally known as "J." or "Jay," he acquired the nickname "Blackfoot" as a child for his habit of walking barefoot on the tarred sidewalks. In 1965, while spending some time at Tennessee State Penitentiary in Nashville for car theft, he met Johnny Bragg, the founder of The Prisonaires vocal group. After leaving prison, Colbert recorded a single under his own name for the small Sur-Speed label before returning to Memphis. There, David Porter of Stax Records heard him singing in a street-corner group. After the plane crash that claimed the lives of Otis Redding and four members of The Bar-Kays, Colbert joined the reconstituted group as lead singer. He performed with them for several months but did not record. In 1968, after Sam & Dave had moved from Stax to Atlantic Records, Porter and his songwriting and production partner Isaac Hayes decided to put together a new vocal group of two men and two women. They recruited Blackfoot, together with Norman West, Anita Louis, and Shelbra Bennett, to form The Soul Children. Between 1968 and 1978, The Soul Children had 15 hits on the R&B chart, including three that crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100, and recorded seven albums. The Soul Children disbanded in 1979. Blackfoot worked with bands in the Memphis area and recorded solo for the local Prime Cut label. In 1983, he began working again with writer and producer Homer Banks, with whom he had recorded with The Soul Children. He recorded "Taxi," a song originally written for Johnnie Taylor but not recorded by him. Blackfoot's record rose to no. 4 on the R&B chart and no. 90 on the pop chart, also reaching no. 48 in the UK. Colbert recorded several albums and had several more R&B hits on Banks' Sound Town label before moving to the Edge label formed by Al Bell in 1986. In 1987, he had another significant hit, "Tear Jerker," a duet with Ann Hines, reaching no. 28 on the R&B chart. He later moved to the Basix label, continuing to release albums into the new millennium. In 2007, Blackfoot and West reformed the Soul Children with Hines and fourth member Cassandra Graham. In 2010, Blackfoot appeared as part of David Porter's music revue.

The Blackwood Brothers (formed 1934)

The Blackwood Brothers are an American southern gospel quartet. Pioneers of the Christian music industry, they are 8-time Grammy Award winners in addition to winning 7 Gospel Music Association Dove Awards. They are also members of the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, the Southern Gospel Museum, and Hall of Fame. The Blackwood Brothers Quartet was formed in 1934 amid the Great Depression when preacher Roy Blackwood (1900–71) moved his family back home to Choctaw County, Mississippi. His brothers, Doyle Blackwood (1911–74) and 15-year-old James Blackwood (1919–2002), already had some experience singing with Vardaman Ray and Gene Catledge. After adding Roy's 13-year-old son, R.W. Blackwood (1921–54), to sing baritone, the brothers began to travel and sing locally. By 1940, they were affiliated with the Stamps-Baxter Music Company to sell songbooks. They were appearing on the 50,000-watt radio station KMA (AM) in Shenandoah, Iowa. Doyle left in 1942 and was replaced by Don Smith. After Doyle left, The Quartet relocated to Memphis, Tennessee in 1950. The move proved to be successful for the group as they began to appear on television station WMCT in the coming years. In 1952, they signed a major recording contract with RCA Victor. After the move to Memphis, Roy left and was replaced by Calvin Newton, who was replaced with Cat Freeman. After Freeman left, Alden Toney was hired to sing tenor. In 1951, Alden Toney and Don Smith left and were replaced by Dan Huskey and Bill Lyles. In 1952, Dan Huskey left and was replaced by Bill Shaw. On June 14, 1954, the Blackwood Brothers lineup of Bill Shaw (tenor), James Blackwood (lead), R.W. Blackwood (baritone), Bill Lyles (bass), and Jackie Marshall (piano) won the Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts competition on national television with their rendition of "Have You Talked To The Man Upstairs?" The win propelled them into the national spotlight beyond just the Southern United States.

Bobby "Blue" Bland (1930-2013)

Robert Calvin Bland was born in 1930 in Rosemark, Tennessee. When he and his mother later moved to Memphis, Bland took his love for singing to Beale Street, where he met B.B. King and Johnny Ace and formed the Beale Streeters. When Bland came home from the Army in 1955, he saw that his former bandmates were becoming successful, so Bland quickly jumped back into the music scene and began recording with saxophonist Bill Harvey's band. His "It's My Life, Baby" recording was his first hit. It has been followed by the release of a steady string of classic blues standards supporting his long and successful career in the music industry. He received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.

Barbara Blue (1937- )

Note ceremony 5/8/2015. From meeting Silky on the sidewalk and an impromptu audition to reigning keyboard queen of Beale after 18 years in Silky O'Sullivan, Barbara is an amazing entertainer.

Booker T. and the M.G.'s (formed 1962)

Booker T. & the M.G.'s is an instrumental R&B/funk band that influenced the sound of Southern soul and Memphis soul. The original members of the group were Booker T. Jones (organ, piano), Steve Cropper(guitar), Lewie Steinberg (bass), and Al Jackson Jr. (drums). In the 1960s, as members of the house band of Stax Records, they played on hundreds of recordings by artists such as Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Bill Withers, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, and Albert King. They also released instrumental records under their own name, best known as the 1962 hit single "Green Onions." As originators of the unique Stax sound, the group was one of its era's most prolific, respected, and imitated. By the mid-1960s, bands on both sides of the Atlantic were trying to sound like Booker T. & the M.G.'s. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2008, and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2012.

Dennis Brooks (1950-2009)  

Note ceremony 2/3/11. Brooks was one of the key figures behind the Beale Street Blues Society, a longtime member of The Blues Foundation, a frequent judge for the International Blues Competition, and a board member of the Arkansas Blues Trail Marker Association. He also served as a concert promoter, manager, and booking agent for several popular Memphis blues artist artists, including Billy Gibson, Blind Mississippi Morris, and the late Sean Costello, among others.

The Blues Brothers (formed 1978)

When comedians Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi teamed up to create a Saturday Night Live skit by singing the blues in 1978, they had no idea their performance would become so popular. Not only was much of the music from Memphis, but the band they assembled for the subsequent 1980 film had direct Memphis roots, featuring Stax greats Steve Cropper on guitar and Donald "Duck" Dunn on bass. The movie, two albums, and a sequel renewed interest in Memphis music.

Rev. W. Herbert Brewster (1897-1987)

 William Herbert Brewster was born in Somerville, Tennessee, on July 2, 1897. After graduating from Roger Williams College in Nashville in 1922, Brewster settled in Memphis, where he became the minister of East Trigg Avenue Baptist Church. Reverend Brewster wrote over 200 compositions, including Mahalia Jackson's first hit in 1948, "Move On Up A Little Higher," and The Ward Singers hit "Surely, God Is Able." These songs credited Brewster with the first million-selling black gospel records. Brewster is also known for his African-American religious dramas, including "Sowing in Tears, Reaping in Joy," for which he was honored by the Smithsonian Institution in 1982. In February 2007, the Memphis City Schools posthumously honored Brewster, naming the new school in the Binghamton community Dr. William Herbert Brewster Elementary School.

Jeremiah Buckley (1922-2003)

Known as "The Admiral," Buckley was an Ambassador for Beale Street, bringing in dignitaries and hosting events often in the company of Silky Sullivan and Maynard the Goat. Born in Jackson Heights, New York, Buckley worked for 45 years as a cosmetics salesman. Faberge, his employer, relocated him to Memphis, where he quickly became involved in the community. He served on the Liberty Bowl board for 11 years, often going to cities dressed as the mascots of their participating teams to drum up fan trips to Memphis. In later years, he was known as "The Irish Admiral," chief promoter for Silky O'Sullivan's, and an enthusiastic ambassador of Beale Street.

R.L. Burnside (1926-2006)

R. L. Burnside was born near Oxford, Mississippi, and grew up a sharecropper in Marshall County. Moving to Chicago to escape that system, he found more misery there when his brother and uncle were both murdered within the span of one month. He returned to Mississippi in 1959, where he farmed during the week and played music on the weekends. He was influenced by John Lee Hooker and "Mississippi" Fred McDowell. Burnside made his first record in 1967 and spent the 1970s and 1980s playing with his family band, Sound Machine. Burnside became famous after being featured in a 1990s documentary based on Robert Palmer's book, Deep Blues.

Lucie Campbell 1885-1962)

Born in 1885, Lucie Eddie Campbell moved to Memphis with her mother and eight siblings. Receiving her first piano lessons at home, she attended school to earn her teaching degree. Lucie continued her education to receive her master's at Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State College. Upon her graduation, Campbell organized the "Music Club" on Beale Street, and in 1919, Lucie published her first song. She went on to publish more than a hundred songs, including "The Lord Is My Shepherd," "Heavenly Sunshine,"" The King's Highway," "Touch Me Lord Jesus," and "He Understands, He'll Say Well Done."

Gus Cannon & Cannon's Jug Stompers (1883-1979)

Born in Redbanks, Mississippi, Cannon moved to Clarksdale at a young age, where he fashioned a banjo out of an old bread pan and a discarded broken guitar neck. After touring the region on the medicine show circuit, Cannon joined the Memphis Jug Band, and later, he formed his own jug band, Cannon's Jug Stompers. He composed the song "Walk Right In" in 1913. It was revived and made a hit for a group called the Rooftop Singers in 1963, which brought him some fame but hardly any money. He made several recordings in the 1920s and recorded an album for Stax in 1963.

Sandy Carroll  

Note ceremony 10/28/10. Longtime Beale singer Carroll was also a partner in Lafayette's Corner and a talented songwriter. In 1989, Albert King recorded Sandy's, 'If You Got It,' which appeared on his final studio album, "Red House." She then started writing songs for her own full-length debut album, "Southern Woman," released in 1993.

Johnny Cash (1932-2003)
Johnny Cash grew up in the Dyess Colony in northeast Arkansas. His love for music began in the cotton fields, where his family sang while they worked. When Cash was discharged from the Air Force in 1954, he moved to Memphis and auditioned for Sam Phillips' Sun Records. The second single he produced at Sun made it to the Billboard Top 20. In 1956, Cash was invited to perform on the Grand Ole Opry, and in 1957, he switched to Columbia Records in search of more artistic freedom. Cash continued to release chart-making hits and made appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show. He also had his own weekly show on ABC. In addition to his successful solo career, he's also noted for a number of high-profile musical collaborations with artists such as Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson (as The Highwaymen); Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins (to create the album Class of '55); as well as Nine Inch Nails and others. His life was brought to the big screen in the 2005 film "Walk the Line."

Ben Cauley (1947-2015)

Ben Cauley was an American trumpet player, vocalist, songwriter, and founding member of the Stax recording group, The Bar-Kays. He was the only survivor of the 1967 plane crash that claimed the lives of soul singer Otis Redding and four members of the Bar-Kays.

Bud Chittom (1951-2018)

Bud Chittom opened about fifty restaurants in Memphis, including Blues City Cafe. Chittom was a veteran in the restaurant industry. During his career, he won the F&B contract for Beale Street Landing. His brass note on Beale Street calls him "a man you don't meet every day."

Joyce Cobb (1945- )

Born in Oklahoma and raised in Nashville, Cobb sang in her grandmother's church. Joyce Cobb signed with a Stax Records subsidiary and later worked with RCA Records. Cobb has released dozens of songs, including "Dig The Gold," which made it to the Top 40 charts. She has also opened for bands like The Temptations, Muddy Waters, and Al Jarreau, toured Europe, and performed with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. Joyce also starred in local productions of Ain't Misbehavin' and Beale Street Saturday Night. In the early 1990s, she had her own club on Beale Street. In 2004 and 2006, Joyce received rave reviews and was nominated for Ostrander Awards for her performance in Theatre Memphis' one-woman musical plays Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill and The Devil's Music: The Life and Times of Bessie Smith.

George Coleman (1935- )

Born in Memphis, Coleman learned to play sax in his teens. His schoolmates included Harold Mabern, Frank Strozier, Hank Crawford, and Charles Lloyd. Coleman worked with Ray Charles, BB King, Max Roach, Slide Hampton, Miles Davis, Lionel Hampton, Chet Baker, Charles Mingus, Ahmad Jamal, and more. And he continues playing today.

James Cotton (1935-2017)

James Cotton was born in Tunica, Mississippi, in 1935. Cotton grew up working in the cotton fields with his mother. As a child, he would listen to his mother play the harmonica and later heard harmonica played on the radio station KFFA by the star of KFFA's radio show King Biscuit Time, Sonny Boy Williamson. Williamson became his mentor, taking Cotton to play at juke joints. When Williamson moved to Milwaukee, Cotton moved to Memphis. He later teamed with Howlin' Wolf. At age fifteen, Cotton released four songs at Sun Records. Cotton then played with Muddy Waters for twelve years. In 1958, Cotton began to record at Chess Records, where he and Muddy released "Sugar Sweet" and "Close To You." Cotton received many nominations and was a Grammy award-winning blues artist.

Hank Crawford (1934-2009)

Bennie Ross "Hank" Crawford, Jr. was born in 1934 in Memphis, Tennessee. Crawford began to study the piano at age nine, but the saxophone soon became his instrument of choice. After playing in early recordings for B.B. King, Crawford went to college at Tennessee State University, majoring in music theory and composition. Crawford played in the Tennessee State Jazz Collegians and his rock 'n' roll quartet, "Little Hank and the Rhythm Kings." While playing in his quartet, he met Ray Charles and was invited to join his band, first playing baritone sax and then alto. In 1963, Crawford became Charles' musical director, as well. Crawford left Ray Charles to form his septet and spend time as an arranger, soloist, and composer. He wrote for such notables as Jimmy McGriff and Dr. John and also found time to cut several albums of his own.

Steve Cropper (1941- )

Stephen Lee Cropper was born October 21, 1941, in Willow Springs, Missouri, and his family moved to Memphis in 1950. At age fourteen, Cropper received a guitar, which he mastered by playing with local bands. Cropper and friends formed The Royal Spades (later renamed The Mar-Keys), which released their first hit single, "Last Night," in 1961 through Stax Records. Cropper soon began to play guitar in Booker T. & the M.G.'s and co-wrote many hit singles with other artists. He also played on Ringo Starr's 1973 album. Cropper and Donald "Duck" Dunn went on to become members of Levon Helm's RCO All-Stars before joining The Blues Brothers Band. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

B. B. Cunningham (1942-2012)  

Note ceremony 5/29/2013. B.B. Cunningham was a bass player with Jerry Lee Lewis, guitarist with The Hombres, and recording engineer. From trading riffs with future Mar-Kays to recording "Let It All Hang Out" to engineering studio sessions, the versatile Cunningham made an indelible mark on Memphis music from his teen years at Messick until his tragic death in 2012.

The Dempseys (founded 1994; disbanded 2009)

Note ceremony 8/12/2014. Brad Birkedahl, Joe Fick, and Ron Perrone Jr. were high school friends in Tacoma, WA. They formed the band in 1994 while still in high school. Brad, an Elvis fan as a kid, was a member of the Elvis Chicago Style Fan Club. He mailed them a demo tape of the band performing some Elvis songs. The guys were shocked when the fan club asked them to open for Carl Perkins at a Memphis show in 1996.

A Graceland executive saw them and asked them to perform at the grand opening of Elvis Presley's Memphis on Beale Street in 1997 and later asked them to serve as the house band at the new nightclub, so they moved to Memphis in early 1998 and played 5-6 nights a week at the new nightclub, from 1998-2003. The Dempseys built an international reputation for high-quality, high-octane, authentic rockabilly, playing festivals around the country, casinos, private events, and other nightclubs around the region. 

When Elvis Presley's Memphis closed in 2003, the band moved a half-block east to Blues City Café. They played there 4-5 nights a week from 2003-2009.

Jim Dickinson (1941-2009) 

Note ceremony 3/4/11. Dickinson built a worldwide reputation as a session player for the likes of Dylan and The Rolling Stones, a producer for influential groups including Big Star and The Replacements, a sometime solo artist, and the patriarch of a small musical dynasty through his sons, Cody and Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars. Dickinson's reach and impact on Memphis music over the last four decades is significant; perhaps more than anyone, he was uniquely connected to the city's historic past and its present.

O'Landa Draper (1963-1998)

O'Landa Draper's family settled in Memphis when he was thirteen years old. Draper's mother was a gospel promoter and recording artist. Draper wrote his own gospel songs in high school, and at Memphis State University, he was credited with forming a mass choir called The Associates. The Associates performed with musicians such as Shirley Caesar, The Winans, and many others. They had just begun to record for Word/Epic at the time of his death due to kidney failure.

Little Laura Dukes (1907-1992) 
Note Ceremony 2013. Her father, a Memphis musician and associate of W.C. Handy, had her on stage at age five. Performing was in her blood, and she began as a dancer. She later learned the guitar from Robert Nighthawk in St. Louis in 1933. Soon, she switched to the banjo-ukulele and then ukulele, which was more suitable to her 4'7", 85-pound stature. She performed throughout her lifetime and was a fixture at Blues Alley well into the 1980s.

John Elkington (1949- )  

Note ceremony 9/27/10. A redeveloper of Beale Street, Elkington took the two blocks of boarded-up buildings between Second and Fourth and created a premier entertainment district in 1983, which now attracts thousands of tourists and employs many musicians. John initiated the Brass Note Walk of Fame in 1986.

Sleepy John Estes (1904-1977) 

Note ceremony 11/14/10. From Ripley, TN, Estes grew up in Brownsville, TN, and played guitar with a distinctive vocal accompaniment. He first recorded in Memphis in 1929 and made several sides over the next decade.

Tom Ferguson (1932-2013)

 A key part of the University of Memphis Basketball tradition is the University's Pep Band. This band was established by the late Dr. Tom Ferguson during his tenure as director of bands from 1962 to 1974. "In 1963, when the Tigers were invited to the NIT, Dr. Ferguson took 40 Band members to support the basketball team. Nicknamed 'The Mighty Sound of the South,' they became the first such band to perform at the NIT tournament and are believed to be the first to perform at Madison Square Gardens," said David Bradford, board member of the Mid-South Jazz Foundation and member of the Brass Note Committee. Tiger Fans should also be aware that Dr. Ferguson wrote the Tigers Fight song and established the University's Jazz Studies Program.

Eddie Floyd (1937- )

Eddie Floyd is an American soul/R&B singer and songwriter best known for his work on the Stax record label in the 1960s and 1970s, including the #1 R&B hit song "Knock on Wood."

DJ Fontana (1931-2018)

Dominic Joseph Fontana was an American musician best known as the drummer for Elvis Presley for 14 years. In 1955, he was hired to play drums for Presley, which marked the beginning of a 15-year relationship. He played on over 460 RCA cuts with Elvis.

Fred Ford/ Honeymoon Garner Trio

Ford (1930-1999), Garner (1931-2002), Tyus (1938-1995)

Serving as the house jazz trio at the Peabody Hotel for many years, The Fred Ford/Honeymoon Garner Trio were very talented players, both individually and as a group. Fred Ford graduated from Douglass High School in the 1940s and began playing baritone sax with Onzie Horne's big band. Ford's amazing versatility brought him to play with performers as varied as Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Little Richard, Alex Chilton, Big Mama Thornton, and Charlie Rich. Robert "Honeymoon" Garner was a graduate of Manassas High School. He played piano and sang professionally at age 15 and later switched to organ. He was a DJ on WDIA from 1956 to 1968 and later worked as a jingle singer at the William B. Tanner Company. He played with Phineas Newborn, Jr., Bill Harvey, Onzie Horne, and many others. Later in his career, he was the announcer for a 13-part Public Radio International series entitled Memphis: Cradle of Rock' n' Soul. Bill Tyus was more than a great drummer; he was a true percussionist. Like Garner, Bill Tyus was a graduate of Douglass High School. Tyus majored in music at the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff and came back to the area as band director at Munford High School. Tyus played in Emerson Able's band Maestros Incorporated before becoming part of the Fred Ford/Honeymoon Garner Trio.

Aretha Franklin (1942-2018)

Aretha Franklin was an American singer, songwriter, actress, pianist, and civil rights activist. Franklin began her career as a child singing Gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, where her father, C. L. Franklin, was a minister. At the age of 18, she embarked on a secular music career as a recording artist for Columbia Records. While Franklin's career did not immediately flourish, she found acclaim and commercial success after signing with Atlantic Records in 1966. Hit songs such as "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)," "Respect," "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," "Chain of Fools," "Think," and "I Say a Little Prayer" propelled her past her musical peers. By the end of the 1960s, Aretha Franklin had come to be known as the "Queen of Soul." Franklin recorded 112 charted singles on Billboard, including 77 Hot 100 entries, 17 top-ten pop singles, 100 R&B entries, and 20 number-one R&B singles. Besides the foregoing, Franklin's well-known hits also include "Ain't No Way," "Call Me," "Don't Play That Song (You Lied)," "Spanish Harlem," "Rock Steady," "Day Dreaming," "Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)," "Something He Can Feel," "Jump to It," "Freeway of Love," "Who's Zoomin' Who", and "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" (a duet with George Michael). She won 18 Grammy Awards, including the first eight awards given for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance (1968–1975). Franklin is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 75 million records worldwide. Franklin received numerous honors throughout her career. She was awarded the National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1987, she became the first female performer to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She also was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005 and into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2012. In 2010, Rolling Stone magazine ranked her number one on its list of the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time" and number nine on its list of "100 Greatest Artists of All Time". The Pulitzer Prize jury in 2019 awarded Franklin a posthumous special citation "for her indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades."

FreeWorld (founded on Beale Street in 1987).

Note ceremony 10/6/2012. FreeWorld is an ever-evolving Memphis musical ensemble that celebrated its 35th anniversary of playing up and down Beale Street - and in particular every Sunday night at Blues City Cafe - in 2022. Heavily influenced by the breadth and depth of their Memphis musical heritage, FreeWorld has remained a consistently entertaining and informed voice on the Memphis music scene since the group's inception. Led by Richard Cushing and Dr. Herman Green, FreeWorld has also served as a "music school" of sorts, mentoring hundreds of young musicians up through their ranks over the decades.

John Fry (1944-2014) 

Note ceremony 2014. He gave Memphis recording a new era with Ardent and recorded great talents, including REM, ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin, Gin Blossoms, and many more. He also nurtured local talent such as Big Star and brought together talented producers and engineers such as Terry Manning, Jim Gaines, and Jim Dickinson. He was involved in many aspects of the music industry, supporting programs such as NARAS, the Visible School, and the University of Memphis.

Jim Gaines (1955- ) 

Note ceremony 10/28/10. Gaines recorded Huey Lewis & the News' demo that resulted in his first album and produced the group's first four albums. Since then, Grammy-winning Gaines has recorded a diverse array of blues artists, from Sandy Carroll and Ana Popovic to Stevie Ray Vaughn and Luther Allison.

Eric Gales (1974- )

Also known as Raw Dawg, Eric Gales is an American blues-rock guitarist who was once hailed as a child prodigy. As of 2019, Gales has recorded eighteen albums for major record labels and has done session and tribute work. He has also contributed vocals on several records by the Memphis rap groups Prophet Posse and Three 6 Mafia under the name Lil E. Gales picked up the guitar at age four. His older siblings, Eugene and Manuel (Little Jimmy King), taught him songs and licks when he was young, in the style of Jimi Hendrix, Albert King, B.B. King, and others. In 1985, the young Gales began to play at blues competitions, with his brother Eugene backing him on bass. Although Gales plays a right-handed guitar "upside-down" (with the bass E string on the bottom), he is not naturally left-handed; he was taught by his brother, who is left-handed and never second-guessed the untraditional technique. In 1994, Gales performed with Carlos Santana at Woodstock '94. In 1995, Gales teamed up with both of his brothers to record an album, Left Hand Brand (released in 1996), as the Gales Brothers. In 2001, Gales released his album That's What I Am on MCA Records. In February 2013, Magna Carta Records released the album Pinnick Gales Pridgen, produced by Mike Varney and featuring Gales on guitar and vocals, Doug Pinnick on bass and vocals, and Thomas Pridgen on drums. The 13-track album featured one cover song, "Sunshine of Your Love," originally by Cream, one short instrumental based on Ludwig van Beethoven's "Für Elise," and the remaining songs written by some combination of Pinnick, Gales, Pridgen, and Varney. The follow-up album, PGP2, was released in July 2014. In 2017, Gales released his fifteenth studio effort, Middle of the Road, featuring numerous artists, including Gary Clark Jr., Lauryn Hill, and others, as well as his own brother and mother. The album became his first to chart on Billboard's Top Blues Album chart, peaking at No. 4, and Gales' next album, The Bookends, topped the chart at No. 1. On May 9, 2019, he won the Blues Music Award for 'Blues Rock Artist of the Year.' In his acceptance speech, he said he was celebrating three years of sobriety. In May 2020, Gales won his second consecutive Blues Music Award as the 'Blues Rock Artist of the Year.'

The Gentrys

Note ceremony 9/7/12. Memphis pop stars of the 1960s, the band which included Jimmy Hart, Larry Raspberry, and others, had a big hit with "Keep On Dancin'."

Mike Glenn 

Note ceremony 12/18/10. Longtime music promoter and operator of the New Daisy Theater, Mike has deep roots in downtown and Beale Street. He has discovered and nurtured talent regionally while bringing national acts to the Memphis audience.

Lillie Mae Glover aka Ma Rainey II (1906-1985)

Born in Columbia, Tennessee, in 1906, Lillie Mae Hardison moved with her family to Nashville as a young child. At age fourteen, Lillie Mae ran off to join a traveling medicine show, hoping to spark a career as a singer. She married a preacher named Willie Glover, and they settled in Memphis in the 1920s. Known by many pseudonyms, including "Big Memphis Ma Rainey," she was a fixture of Beale Street until urban renewal stalled the nightlife. She came out of retirement in the mid-1970s, singing locally and with the traveling Memphis Blues Caravan. She recorded an album entitled Memories of Beale Street: Prince Gabe and the Millionaires with the Original Memphis Sound. Glover's pace was slowed a bit after she had heart surgery, but she kept performing until her death in 1985.

Ray Glover (1954- )

A 1984 semi-final winner of the West Tennessee Metropolitan Opera auditions alongside Kallen Esperian, Glover now lends his baritone voice to jazz standards in cabaret settings and larger venues. He served as the first artist in residence for the Memphis Arts Council. He has performed with the Memphis Symphony, Memphis Slim, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, and many others throughout the United States and 19 additional countries. Equally adept at accompanying himself on piano or bass guitar, the smooth voice of Memphian Ray Glover currently captivates audiences at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

Harry Godwin (1907-1986)

Born in New Jersey, Harry Godwin grew up in Virginia and Chicago, where he saw Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory, Baby Dodds, King Oliver, and other early jazz greats. He moved to Memphis in the early 1950s. Knowing of his love for and connection to jazz and blues, he was asked to help pull together a lineup for the Cotton Carnival. Later versions became the Memphis Jazz & Blues Festival. His first show featured Furry Lewis, Gus Cannon, Little Laura Dukes, Bukka White, and more. From that point on, he worked his day job as a manufacturer's rep, mainly to support his family and his love of music history. He collected stories, memorabilia, and taped interviews. He also wrote a few songs. For a time, he served as manager for Memphis Slim. He had a weekly radio show on WLYX (Rhodes College). His avocation made him a resource for researchers and a treasure for the city.

Rosco Gordon (1934-2002)  

Note ceremony 2/2/11. Born in Memphis, Gordon played piano in a unique boogie-woogie style with unusual rhythms and beats in the 1940s and 1950s. He was part of an informal group known as the Beale Streeters, which included Johnny Ace and Bobby "Blue" Bland. Gordon began recording with Sam Phillips in 1951 and had several successful records over the next decade. He moved to New York in the early 1960s, where his music career dwindled, and he pursued other business interests. He began performing again in the mid-1980s and was featured in a 2002 documentary, which was made in conjunction with that year's W.C. Handy Blues Music Awards. He died six weeks later.

James Govan (1949-2014)

James Govan was born in McComb, Mississippi, in 1949 and started playing guitar at age 13. Govan began performing vocals and percussion on Beale Street in 1989 and has served as the frontman for the Boogie Blues Band at the Rum Boogie Café since 1994. From 1993 to 1997, Govan performed a tribute to Otis Redding at the Porretta Soul Festival in Italy.

Al Green (1946- )
Albert Greene was born in Forrest City, Arkansas, and began performing at age ten in the family quartet, the Green Brothers. The group toured extensively throughout the South in the 1950s until his family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 1967, he formed a new group called Al Greene & the Soul Mates, and the single "Back Up Train" was released on Hot Line Music. Greene became Green when he signed with Willie Mitchell's Hi Records in 1969. A string of hits came from the Hi years until Green focused his attention on becoming pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis in 1976. Since that time, he has appeared on Broadway, written a book, produced more music with Mitchell, and won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. Herman Green (1930-2020)

Dr. Green began his musical career playing on Beale Street with the Newborn family in 1945. Returning to Memphis from a stint in the military in 1955, Green had a layover in San Francisco and became immersed in the music scene there. He stayed in San Francisco and became the bandleader for a club called The Blackhawk. From 1955 to 1957, Herman played with artists such as Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, John Coltrane, and the Modern Jazz Quartet. After meeting Lionel Hampton, Herman was offered a job playing with his band. Herman stayed with Hampton's band for eight years before returning home to Memphis, where he then directed the jazz studies program at LeMoyne-Owen College for a number of years. Green played with many groups around Memphis over the years, perhaps his longest tenure being with FreeWorld, a Beale Street fixture.

Mickey Gregory (1938- )

Note ceremony 5/18/2015. Mickey Gregory was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He attended Manassas and studied music under the direction of Onzie Horne. He has played in backup bands for Willie Mitchell's Hi-Recording, Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers, Rufus Thomas, OV Wright commemorative concert band, and Stax studio band. Mickey toured internationally as a member of the Isaac Hayes Movement. Mickey Gregory is the recipient of numerous music awards, including the 2002 recipient of the Memphis Handy Awards. Presently, he is part of the Early Grove Baptist Church Music Department and a member of Elmo and the Shades.

Jimmy Griffin (1943-2005)  

Note ceremony 10/20/10. A graduate of Kingsbury High School, Griffin was a co-founder of the pop-soft rock band Bread. Bread had 10 singles in Billboard's top 20. He attended high school and later worked with Dorsey and Johnny Burnette. He had small roles in two films, "For Those Who Think Young" and Frank Sinatra's "None But the Brave". He was a prolific songwriter and won an Oscar for co-writing "For All We Know," a song from the movie Lovers and Other Strangers. Griffin lived and recorded at Shoe Studio in Memphis. He recorded originally for Reprise, then went on to Imperial, Viva, Elektra, Polydor, and BNA, as well as on the Shoe label over a more than 40-year career.

Peter Guralnick (1943- )

Peter Guralnick is an American music critic, author, and screenwriter. Specializing in early Rock 'n' Roll, Blues, and soul music, Guralnick has published work highlighting the careers of Elvis Presley, Sam Phillips, and Sam Cooke.

After receiving a master's degree in creative writing from Boston University, Peter Guralnick began writing about music. Guralnick's writing is characterized by its colloquial approach, and he has been called the "Dean of Rock' n' Roll Storytellers." In addition to his many books, Guralnick has written for Living Blues and Rolling Stone. In 1994, he won a Grammy for his liner notes in Sam Cooke: Live at the Harlem Square Club. Guralnick also wrote the scripts for Grammy-winning documentary Sam Cooke: Legend and Martin Scorsese's Feel Like Going Home.

John Hampton (1953-2014)

John Hampton was a Grammy Award-winning producer and engineer at the famous Ardent Studios. Over the course of a 40-year career, Hampton collaborated with some of music's most celebrated acts. He mixed records for all three of Jack White's bands, specifically The White Stripes Get Behind Me Satan, The Dead Weather's Sea of Cowards, and The Raconteurs' "Broken Boy Soldiers" and "Hands." He also engineered a pair of archival records for The Replacements and recorded with John Hiatt, Alex Chilton, The Cramps, The Afghan Whigs, and Jimmie Vaughn. For his efforts, Hampton earned two Grammy Awards.

W.C. Handy (1873-1958)

William Christopher Handy was born in Florence, Alabama, in 1873. Growing up, he received lessons on the cornet in the local barbershop. Handy was teaching school by age nineteen but left for a high-paying job at a factory in Bessemer, Alabama. Wishing to rekindle his flame with music, he organized a quartet that performed at the Chicago World's Fair and toured for a short time afterward. Later, Handy joined Mahara's Minstrels playing the cornet. Handy formed his own marching band in 1902, which combined various elements from popular dance music and performed for both white and black audiences alike. Touring and traveling, he heard and recalled music made by rural people. He particularly recalled the strange-sounding music he heard a man playing at a train station in Tutwiler, Mississippi: The Blues. Handy received his first big break when his band was asked to play for Memphis political boss Edward H. Crump. Handy's band had a song called "Mr. Crump." The title was later changed to "The Memphis Blues," which was the first blues ballad Handy ever wrote and arguably the first blues ballad in history. After publishing the song himself in 1912, "The Memphis Blues" became popular all over the United States. Handy went on to open up a Memphis-based music publishing firm and, in 1917, moved the company to New York City.

Bob Harding (1946-2013)

Bob Harding was a long-time operator of the famed Beale Street retail shop Tater Red's Lucky Mojos & Black Diamond. Bob was deeply committed to seeing the overall success of the revitalization of the Beale Street Historic District.

Isaac Hayes (1942-2008)

Isaac Hayes was born in 1942 in Covington, Tennessee, and was raised by his maternal grandparents. He and his family moved to Memphis, where he discovered a talent for performing during high school. Later, he got a job as a pianist at the Plantation Inn in West Memphis, Arkansas. Because bandleader Floyd Newman also worked for Stax Records, Hayes was given his first co-writing gig in 1963 as a session man at Stax Records. Hayes and lyricist David Porter soon became a notable songwriting team at Stax. Hayes released his first album, "Introducing Isaac Hayes," in 1967 but did not gain a following until his "Hot Buttered Soul" album made the pop and R&B charts in 1969. From 1969 to 1975, Hayes released a string of Top Twenty albums. Hayes' Oscar-winning hit, "Theme from 'Shaft'" topped the charts for two weeks in 1971, and he made his television debut in Wattstax, a concert film featuring Stax artists. Isaac Hayes also served as the voice of "Chef" on Comedy Central's South Park until his death on August 10, 2008.

Hi Rhythm Section (founded late 1960s)

The Hi Rhythm Section was the house band for Willie Mitchell's Hi Records label in the 1970s and recorded many successful soul albums with artists including Al Green and Ann Peebles. Mitchell initially organized the band at his Royal Recording Studio during the late 60s. Members of the group include brothers Mabon "Teenie" Hodges on guitar, Leroy Hodges on bass, and Charles Hodges on keyboards, with Al Jackson, Jr. or Howard Grimes on drums.

Clyde Hopkins (1921-2017)

Clyde Hopkins was a member of W.C. Handy's Orchestra and grew up in a roadhouse operated by his mother in Tunica, Mississippi. After leaving the Handy organization, he started his own band. In 1965, Hopkins bought Johnnie Currie's Club Tropicana in North Memphis and renamed it El Morocco. He kept a talented house band, including, over the years, Dr. Herman Green, Emerson Able, Floyd Newman, and many other noteworthy musicians. El Morocco also attracted big-name traveling R&B acts. After leaving the club business, he continued to perform with large and small groups locally and on tour. He still continues to play and record.

Dawn Hopkins

Dawn worked out of Sounds Unreel Studio for 16 years. Within that time, she was privileged to work with great producers Don C. Smith, Jim Dickinson, Jim Gaines, David Z, and Jack Holder, just to name a few. She also became a producer herself. She engineered sessions for local and touring artists, such as Jimmy Davis, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Reba Russell, Eden Brent, and Jimmy Thackery. Dawn did what she calls "a ten-year tour of Beale Street" in the 1990s. She landed the house gig at B.B. King's Blues Club, where she was fortunate to work with the likes of The King, himself, Albert Collins, Luther Allison, and many more blues and R&B legends. The tour continued down the street to The Black Diamond, where she continued to mix great blues acts from Memphis and around the country. Dawn also toured with the late Isaac Hayes for 6 years as stage manager, monitor engineer, and later, road manager, and basically anything "Boss" needed to be done. She is now the house engineer for the newly renovated Levitt Shell in Memphis. Dawn Hopkins has managed to surround herself with some of the best talent in the world. She is the co-owner, co-producer, and engineer for BEB Productions, which has proudly produced 8 records for The Reba Russell Band. Dawn also co-produced and engineered the Blues Music Award-winning album "Mississippi Number 1" with Eden Brent. She continues to record for the syndicated radio show, "Beale St. Caravan," and The Blues Foundation still makes records and loves to mix a great live show. Dawn Hopkins respectfully borrows a quote from the late, great Willie Mitchell, "I'll get your sound!"

Onzie Horne Sr. (1924-1973)

Onzie Horne was an arranger and a band leader with the versatility to lead high school groups at Woodstock and Manassas High Schools, as well as play with stars ranging from Lionel Hampton to Ma Rainey II. He also arranged music for B.B. King and Al Jackson. For the last two and half years of his life, he was the arranger and bandleader for Isaac Hayes.

Maurice Hulbert Sr. (1896-1984)

Maurice "Fess" Hulbert Sr. was born on July 17, 1896. Racism was very heavy in the South, and Mr.Hulbert had to overcome a mountain of obstacles to get to the point where he was known for his volunteerism, philanthropy, and charitable work within the community. Maurice Hulbert Sr. made a strong impact in the history of Memphis, especially on Beale Street and within Black Memphis. Mr. Hulbert was considered an elegant & elite dancer who opened the first black dancing studio in Memphis. He also owned successful restaurants and nightclubs, including the Flamingo, the Manhattan, and the Harlem House. One of his best-known musical contributions was his music group combo and band known as Hulbert's Lo-Down Houns, where he was the bandleader and a musician. Coming from humble beginnings, his travels and business entertainment connections allowed him the opportunity to invite and book talents such as Ethel Waters, Duke Ellington, and black baseball teams. His charitable contributions allowed him the opportunity to support and fund community projects such as the Robert R. Elks Lodge No. 1477. In 1951, at the 14th Annual Blues Bowl game, he was crowned king. W.C. Handy also attended the 14th Annual Blues Bowl. Maurice Hulbert Sr. also owned Hulbert's Printing Company, which gave business owners, especially African Americans, the opportunity to print their business materials. Mr. Hulbert's printing shop was located in the heart of one of the African-American communities close to Beale Street.

George Hunt (1940-2020)

George Hunt was born more than 60 years ago of humble beginnings, and over a lifetime of living, learning, watching, growing, creating and translating his visions into paintings, he has emerged as one of the most important African-American artists in the South. George Hunt has made a significant mark on not just African-American art but American art as a whole. Memphis artist George Hunt was born in rural Louisiana, near Lake Charles, and his grandmother noted early in life that he had a special power to "see things." In addition to large doses of indigenous music, one of the things he saw was the civil rights movement and that experience became a painting in 1997, which in turn, became a US Postage Stamp issued in 2005 as part of the United States Postal Service series, "To Form A More Perfect Nation." George Hunt was honored for his painting, "America Cares/Little Rock Nine" at ceremonies in Little Rock and Memphis. The painting was originally commissioned for the Central High School Museum but first spent five years hanging in the White House in Washington, D.C. First Lady Hillary Clinton, in a personal note to Mr. Hunt, wrote, "We are grateful that our visitors and staff have such a powerful image of hope and freedom to greet, inspire and inform them."

Alberta Hunter (1895-1984)

Alberta Hunter was born in 1895 in Memphis but left for Chicago as a teenager, where she peeled potatoes and worked hard to get her foot in the door with local club owners. Hunter got her first break in 1917 when she landed a five-year association with the Dreamland ballroom. Her career skyrocketed in the 1920s as she made regular appearances in clubs and on stage in musicals in New York, Paris, and London. She wrote several songs, including the critically acclaimed "Downhearted Blues." In 1928, Hunter played Queenie in the first London production of Show Boat. After her mother's death in 1954, Hunter sought a career change, which led her to the medical profession. Hunter was working at a New York hospital in 1961 when a record producer approached her about taking a break from nursing to record again. In 1978, after retiring from the hospital, Hunter agreed to a two-week gig at the Greenwich Village Club. The gig served as a major comeback for Hunter and caught the attention of Columbia Records. She performed until shortly before her death in October 1984.

Cordell Jackson (1923-2004)

Cordell Jackson was born in Pontotoc, Mississippi, in 1923 and grew up playing music with encouragement from her father. At age twelve, she was performing on the guitar, piano, and upright bass in her father's band and appeared on her father's radio show in Tupelo, Mississippi. She later added the mandolin, banjo, and harmonica to her repertoire. Of all the instruments she played, Cordell was most noted for the electric guitar. After marrying William Jackson in 1943, she settled in Memphis, where she set up equipment in her living room and began to record demos and send them to Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records. Unable to break into the Sun Records label's stable of male artists, Jackson created Moon Records in 1956 to record her own single, "Beboppers Christmas," which led her to release additional rockabilly singles by other small bands and is widely thought to be the first woman to produce, engineer, arrange and promote music on her own rock and roll music label. Though she never stopped recording until her death, her career had waned somewhat until it was rejuvenated in the 1980s when Alex Chilton and Tav Falco recorded some of her Moon Records songs. The "Rock-and-Roll Granny" achieved notoriety with appearances on the David Letterman Show and in a Bud Light commercial with Brian Setzer.

Al James
Al James has long worked for the management of the Beale Street Historic District since the 1980s. The Beale Street Historic District would not have had its continued success without his hard work.

Mark James (1940- )

Note ceremony 8/14/2014. A staff songwriter with Chips Moman, James produced hits such as Hooked on Feeling for BJ Thomas and Suspicious Minds for Elvis Presley. His songs were also recorded by artists as varied as Brenda Lee, Willie Nelson, and the Pet Shop Boys.

Roland Janes (1933-2013)

Note ceremony 11/7/2013. After serving in the Korean War, Janes moved to Memphis and became a studio musician for Sam Phillips at Sun Studios. He left Sun to open his own Sonic Recording in 1963. He worked at Memphis Sounds studio as an engineer and producer in 1977 and worked again with Phillps at Sam Phillips Recording in 1982. In his long career in production, he worked with a host of various artists before passing away in 2013.

Jimi Jamison (1951-2014)  

Note ceremony 10/26/2014. From fronting Target early in his career to Cobra and then Survivor, Jamison continued to broaden the audience for his sound. Perhaps his biggest audience would be fans of Baywatch who heard him sing the theme on that program.

Roosevelt Jamison (1936-2013)

Note ceremony 9/9/11. Roosevelt Jamison was born in Olive Branch, Mississippi. During his childhood years, Jamison lived on Beale Street, where he delivered groceries and pharmacy items on a bike to help support his mother and siblings. He graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. Jamison managed local musical groups and rehearsed them out of the back of the Interstate Blood Bank he ran on Beale Street. It was through these groups that he discovered O.V. Wright and James Carr. Jamison was a music manager, publicist and songwriter. His first and most notable composition was "That's How Strong My Love Is," recorded by O.V. Wright and released on Quinton Claunch's Goldwax record label in 1964. The song has since been much covered, most notably by Otis Redding, appearing on his 1965 album The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads and on Out of Our Heads by The Rolling Stones, also in 1965. In 1973 Humble Pie included it on their album Eat It. The song has also been covered on albums by Taj Mahal, Candi Staton, Percy Sledge, and Buddy Miller, as well as by Roland Gift on the Beautiful Girls movie soundtrack.

Robert Leroy Johnson (1911-1938)

Robert Leroy Johnson was born in 1911 in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, and grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. Around this time, blues musician Son House moved to Robinsonville, and Johnson followed him around, trying to learn the guitar. When Johnson left Robinsonville and reappeared a few months later, he had tremendous guitar technique. From this came the legend that he sold his soul to the Devil at the legendary "crossroads" (the intersection of Mississippi Highways 61 and 49) in exchange for his great talent. He made just two sets of recordings in Texas in 1936 and 1937 before dying in 1938 at age 27 near Greenwood, Mississippi. Johnson was among the first musicians inducted into the Rock' n' Roll's Hall of Fame "Early Influence" category in 1986. Robert Johnson was also ranked #5 in Rolling Stone's list of the top 100 Guitarists of All Time.

Fred Jones Jr. (1948- ) 

Note ceremony 9/10/10. Concert promoter in Memphis for over 40 years, founder of the Southern Heritage Classic football game, and part of the founding ownership group of the Memphis Grizzlies. Fred Jones began his career in entertainment as a road manager with Isaac Hayes. Returning to Memphis, Jones began booking acts such as Lou Rawls, Nancy Wilson, Ray Charles, Count Basie, B.B. King, Sarah Vaughan, John Davidson, Tina Turner and Bill Cosby. In 1977, Jones was named national tour manager for the Isley Brothers. He spent two years with the Isleys while continuing to bring shows to Memphis. Jones created Summitt Management Corporation.

Bob Kelley (1946-1998)

Music promoter Bob Kelly founded Mid-South Concerts and was responsible for bringing great shows and big-name artists to Memphis for 25 years, from the 1970s through the 1990s. He regularly booked world-class talent for the Mid-South Coliseum, Mud Island Amphitheater, Pyramid, and Beale Street Music Festival.

Junior Kimbrough (1930-1998)

David "Junior" Kimbrough lived near Holly Springs, Mississippi, where he was a musician and juke joint proprietor. He began playing guitar in the 1950s, developing a unique style of syncopation. Beginning in 1960, he recorded a few singles of note – particularly two with Charlie Feathers in 1969 – but achieved true recording fame with his 1992 album All Night Long, produced by Robert Palmer.

King Beez (founded 1964)

Note ceremony 9/30/2014. Serving as ambassadors of Memphis soul and blues, the high-energy house band of B.B. King's Blues Club has entertained countless thousands of tourists from around the world in the 20 years of playing at the western anchor of the Beale Street entertainment district. Venturing outside the club, the band has played numerous parties, galas, and festivals in the Mid-South. The current lineup of the group includes Solomon McDaniel on keyboards, Charlton Johnson on guitar, James Jackson on bass guitar, Lafayette Adair on drums, Mike Krepper on sax, and vocalists Ricky & Angela Adkisson. Alumni of the group include over a dozen well-known Memphis musicians, such as Preston Shannon, Lannie McMillan, and Melvin Rodgers,


Albert King (1923-1992)

Albert King was born in 1923 in Indianola, Mississippi. He first discovered music by singing in the church choir and listening to his father play guitar. Because he was left-handed, Albert would flip guitars upside down so the low E string was on the bottom. This led to his custom-made, left-handed guitar with reversed strings. Albert King recorded his first album in Chicago in 1953, but his first hit didn't come until 1959 with "I'm A Lonely Man," which was co-written with Little Milton. In 1966, Albert King signed with the Stax record label, where he recorded many sides, such as "Crosscut Saw." King also played at promoter Bill Graham's Fillmore venues. In the 1970s, King teamed up with members of the Bar-Kays and The Movement, including bassist James Alexander and drummer Willie Hall, to produce the hit "I'll Play the Blues For You." King played his final concert in Los Angeles on December 19, 1992. He died two days later in Memphis after suffering a sudden heart attack.

B.B. King (1925-2015)

Riley B. King, born in 1925 in Indianola, Mississippi, has become better known as B.B. King. As a child, King sang in a local gospel group, and at twelve years old, he was given his first guitar by his older cousin, "Bukka" White. Making his way to Memphis, King worked at radio station WDIA as a singer and disc jockey. This is where he was given the nickname "Beale Street Blues Boy," which he later shortened to "B.B." In 1949, King began recording with Los Angeles-based RPM Records. Many of his earliest singles were produced by Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records. King opened for The Rolling Stones on their 1969 American tour. He won a Grammy Award for "The Thrill Is Gone," which was later marked number 183 in Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. He has recorded many albums of his own and collaborated with artists ranging from U2 to Eric Clapton.

Little Jimmy King (1968-2002)

Born in Memphis in 1968 as Manuel Gales, he grew up as a left-handed guitar player. Renaming himself after his guitar heroes, Jimi Hendrix and Albert King, Little Jimmy King released his self-titled debut album in 1991 through the Rounder/Bull's-eye Blues label. After recording with his brothers, King released his third album with producer Willie Mitchell and called it Soldier for the Blues. Little Jimmy King died due to a heart attack on July 19, 2002, at the young age of 34.

George Klein (1935-2019)

George Klein was a radio personality whose career spans over six decades. Klein hosted programs on WMPS, WHBQ, and WMC. He also hosted a television series called Dance Party. Klein was a classmate of Elvis Presley at Humes High School, where they became lifelong friends. Klein was a member of Elvis' "Memphis Mafia" entourage and later hosted an Elvis-centered program on Sirius satellite radio. Klein received numerous awards during his career, including "Number One Disc Jockey" from Billboard magazine and the "Memphis Legend Award" from Harrah's Casino.

Marty Lacker (1937-2017)

Note ceremony 11/6/10. Marty Lacker was a radio DJ who started a recording studio in the 1960s. He led Elvis to record at American Studios with Chips Moman, from which "Suspicious Minds,"" Kentucky Rain," and other hits were produced. Lacker also produced and directed the legendary Memphis Music Awards in the 1970s. He was a founder of the NARAS chapter and the Memphis-Shelby County Music Commission.

Preston Lamm (1947- ) 

Note ceremony 10/21/10. Lamm originally worked on the team with John Elkington to develop the Beale Street Entertainment District but branched off to open his own club, Rum Boogie Cafe, which still continues today as one of the most successful live entertainment night spots in the city. Creating River City Management, Lamm owns or manages several clubs and restaurants in Memphis and Southaven.

Shawn Lane (1963-2003)

Shawn Lane was born in Memphis, Tennessee; Lane began playing piano with his sisters at the age of eight but did not play guitar seriously until he was ten. At age 12–13, he began to practice heavily. At fourteen, he became the lead guitarist for Black Oak Arkansas (BOA) and, alongside members, including drummer Tommy Aldridge, toured over the next four years, opening shows for bands including REO Speedwagon, Ted Nugent, Outlaws, Cheap Trick, Molly Hatchet, and Blue Öyster Cult. During 1979, Shawn played in The Streets, recording studio demos with Andy Tanas on bass, Chris Craig on drums, and Jimmy Henderson on guitar, almost securing a deal with Epic Records. He was an American musician who released two studio albums and collaborated with a variety of musicians including Ringo Starr, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Reggie Young, Joe Walsh, Jonas Hellborg, and many others. After studying the piano, he mastered the guitar, which he played with exceptional speed.

Booker T. Laury (1914-1995)

Lawrence "Booker T." Laury was born in 1914 in Memphis. Laury grew up with Peter Chatman, also known as "Memphis Slim." Along with friend Mose Vinson, Laury and Chatman began playing in the clubs and card rooms of the city. Even with the pinky finger of his left hand missing from a machine saw accident, Laury was an accomplished keyboard player. In 1935, Laury and Chatman caught the attention of a musical talent scout who invited them to come to Chicago. Chatham went and subsequently had an international music career. Laury stayed in Memphis and continued to play gambling halls and clubs the rest of his life, not achieving fame until a cameo appearance in the film "Great Balls of Fire." He began recording when he was 80 years old.

Furry Lewis (1893-1981)

Born Walter E. Lewis in 1893 in Greenwood, Mississippi, his family moved to Memphis when he was seven. By 1908, Lewis was playing solo for parties, in clubs, and on the street. He also played several dates with W.C. Handy's Orchestra. Even with the loss of a leg after a railroad accident in 1917, Lewis was able to travel, meeting performers like Bessie Smith, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Texas Alexander. While he cut records in 1927 and 1929, Lewis did not garner attention for his recordings until 1962, when he was recorded by the folklorist George Mitchell. In 1969, producer Terry Manning recorded Lewis in his Beale Street apartment. In 1972, Lewis was the featured performer in the Memphis Blues Caravan. Before he died of pneumonia in 1981, Lewis opened twice for The Rolling Stones, appeared on Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show, and had a role in a Burt Reynolds movie, W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings, and a profile in Playboy magazine.

Jerry Lee Lewis (1935-2022)

Born in 1935 in Ferriday, Louisiana, Jerry Lee Lewis was given his first piano at age eight after his parents mortgaged their farm to purchase it. Lewis learned to play the piano in two weeks. Lewis grew up listening to as many country music broadcasts as he could. He also spent a lot of time hiding behind the bar at Haney's Big House, absorbing the sounds of eighteen-year-old B.B. King. In 1956, 21-year-old Jerry Lee read a story about how Elvis made his way to Memphis to speak to Sam Phillips at Sun Records. Jerry Lee followed suit, and by July 1957, he was performing on The Steve Allen Show. Lewis' "Whole Lotta Shakin'" made its way to the #3 spot on the Pop, Country, Western, and R&B charts. He followed that with the #2 hit, "Great Balls of Fire." He released dozens of albums and continued to delight audiences across the globe with his high-energy performances late into his life. Lewis passed at age 87 at his home in Nesbit, Mississippi, after suffering from a stroke.

Booker Little (1938-1961)

Booker Little was a Memphis native and graduate of Manassas High School, where he was classmates with George Coleman, Charles Lloyd, Frank Strozier, Harold Mabern, and Hank Crawford. Little grew up playing on Beale Street, performing with Phineas Newborn and others by the age of 12. He went to the Chicago Conservatory and then to New York and served as a mentor to the younger Memphis musicians who followed--Coleman, Mabern, and Lloyd all cite him as a major influence and teacher about the business. He played on many notable and adventurous records with Max Roach, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, and MJT +3, in addition to recordings with his fellow Memphians. He also headlined an influential quartet at the Five Spot in New York. He died in 1963 at the age of 23; his influence and the amount of recordings he made at that time are stunning. Many people cite him as the reason that Memphis jazz music is often seen as progressive and even bordering on avant-garde. Charles Lloyd said - "There needs to be a statue of Booker Little in Memphis."

Charles Lloyd (1938- )

Note ceremony 4/11/12. He began playing the saxophone at the age of 9. Pianist Phineas Newborn became his mentor and took him to Irvin Reason for lessons. Lloyd worked in Phineas Sr's band and, from the age of 12, worked as a sideman in the blues bands of B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Johnnie Ace, Bobbie "Blue" Bland, and others. His closest friend in high school was trumpeter Booker Little. In 1956, Lloyd moved to Los Angeles and earned a Master's degree from the University of Southern California. During this period, Lloyd played in Gerald Wilson's big band, and he also had his own group that included Billy Higgins, Don Cherry, Bobby Hutcherson, and Terry Trotter. Lloyd joined Chico Hamilton in 1960, though the band was known for playing "chamber jazz" at the beginning of Lloyd's tenure. His influence as a composer and a player quickly pushed it in a more progressive post-bop direction, especially after Hamilton asked him to be the group's "music director." Lloyd's key musical partner in the band was Hungarian guitarist Gabor Szabo. In 1964, Lloyd left Hamilton's group to join alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderly. During this period, he recorded two albums as a leader for Columbia Records; his sidemen were other young musicians, including Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams. Through 1965- 1969, Lloyd led a quartet with pianist Keith Jarrett, bassist Cecil McBee (later Ron McClure), and drummer Jack DeJohnette. The quartet's music was an interesting fusion of straight-ahead post-bop, free jazz, and world music, which quickly caught the attention of both jazz fans and critics.

Jimmie Lunceford (1902-1947)

At the height of his career from 1937 to 1941, Lunceford led a big band with the polish, showmanship, and musicianship comparable to that seen in the bands of Count Basie, Earl Hines, and Duke Ellington. A native of Denver, he graduated from Fisk University in 1926 with a degree in music and then came to work as band director at Manassas High School in Memphis. In 1927, he organized a superb student band, which toured and later turned professional. By 1934, they were playing Harlem's Cotton Club, touring cross country, and recording for Decca Records. Lunceford died of a heart attack in 1947.

Harold Mabern (1936- )

Mabern is an American jazz pianist and composer, principally in the hard bop, post-bop, and soul jazz fields. He is one of jazz's most enduring and dazzlingly skilled pianists. He was born in Memphis, a city that produced saxophonists George Coleman and Charles Lloyd, pianist Phineas Newborn Jr. and trumpeter Booker Little. He was an unsung hero of the 1960s hardbop scene, performing and recording with many of its finest artists, and only in recent years has he begun to garner appreciation for his long-running legacy in jazz and the understated power of his talent. Like fellow Memphis jazz artists George Coleman, Booker Little, and Frank Strozier, Mabern attended Manassas High School, and after an early attempt at playing the drums, he taught himself piano and fell under the spell of pianist Phineas Newborn Jr., an influence that would shape and linger with Mabern for the rest of his life.

Bobby Manuel (1945- )

Bobby Manuel is one of the longest-working musicians in the Memphis scene. Bobby Manuel is in his sixth decade of creating music. Manuel's guitar has been prominent in Memphis music since the 1960s. He joined Stax Records as an engineer and quickly began doing session work as a guitarist. He played/recorded with Isaac Hayes, Elvis Presley, Al Green, Mavis Staples, Solomon Burke, Albert King, Rufus and Carla Thomas, The Barkays, Little Milton, Shirley Brown, Leon Russell, Billy Joel, and dozens more. He has worked as an engineer and producer and is a composer with over 150 songs to his credit. He produced the number-one hit Disco Duck for Rick Dees. In 1977, Manuel and Stax Records founder Jim Stewart established Daily Planet, a studio and production company. At Mr. Stewart's retirement, Manuel founded High Stacks Records with an initial release of a CD featuring former Stax artists, including the great Rance Allen. In 2004, he played the epic "Stax Comes Home" concert at the Orpheum to honor the Stax Museum. He played guitar for "Memphis Soul, In Performance at the White House" for President Obama in 2013, which was shown on PBS. In 2017, he played in the all-star Royal Studios 60th Anniversary concert at the Orpheum, and he also released a new album, "Soulsauce."

Martha Ellen Maxwell (1928-2014)

First director of the Memphis Film and Music Commission – she was a long-time director of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. For decades, she hosted a show promoting Memphis Music on the Library Cable Channel.

Fred McDowell (1904-1972) 

Note ceremony 2/2/12. Born in Rossville, Tennessee, McDowell began playing the guitar at age 14. He moved to Memphis to work a variety of jobs and play music in 1926 and then moved to Como, Mississippi, around 1940. He developed a distinctive style of bottleneck guitar. He was recorded in 1959 by Alan Lomax and subsequently played at many festivals and clubs. In spite of his album entitled I Do Not Play Rock & Roll, many rock musicians were influenced by him. The Rolling Stones covered one of his songs on a 1971 album.

Don McMinn (1942-2018)

Don McMinn helped create the rebirth of Beale Street by fronting the house band at the Rum Boogie Café for nine years, beginning with its opening in 1985. His blend of Delta blues and R&B quickly made Rum Boogie a must-visit destination for musicians traveling through Memphis. In addition to his prowess as a stage host, his musical abilities led him to record with such stars as Memphis Slim, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bobby "Blue" Bland, and many more.

The Memphis Boys (founded 1964)

Note ceremony 8/13/12. The American Sound Studios House Band, including Tommy Cogbill, Gene Chrisman, Bobby Emmons, Mike Leech, Bobby Wood, and Reggie Young, provided backing on major hits for Elvis and others under the direction of Chips Moman.

Will Shade & the Memphis Jug Band (1898-1966)

The Memphis Jug Band played in the 1920s and 1930s, recording over 100 songs between 1927 and 1934. The central figure of the band was Will Shade. The rest of the band, both personnel and instrumentation, was a continuous ebb and flow. At times, the instruments featured might include rhythm guitar, kazoo, mandolin, harmonica, violin, an empty gallon jug, or whatever else a musician might have on hand on any given day. Shade played, among other things, a "bullfiddle" made from a washtub, broom handle, and string. The public lost interest in jug bands, and the Memphis Jug Band disbanded in 1935. Shade continued to assemble novelty bands until his death in 1966.

The Memphis Horns (founded 1969)

The Memphis Horns, originally a six-piece backup group, became famous for their work with Stax Records. For most of their tenure, the group has been a duo, Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love. They appear on recordings with Stax artists, including Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, Rufus Thomas, Sam & Dave, and others. They also later worked with Robert Cray, The Doobie Brothers, U2, and others. Love has retired, but Jackson continues to record and perform with former members Jack Hale and Tom McGinley. Still in demand, in 2008, they played with Jack White and Alicia Keys.

Memphis Minnie (1897-1973)

Lizzie Douglas, known as Memphis Minnie, was born in 1897 in Algiers, Louisiana. As a child, Lizzie "Kid" Douglas played guitar in nightclubs before joining the Ringling Brothers circus. After marrying singing partner Kansas Joe McCoy in 1929, Columbia Records picked up Minnie and her husband and released their first hit, "Bumble Bee." McCoy and Minnie broke up soon after moving to Chicago in the 1930s, and by 1939, Minnie was recording with her new husband, "Little Son" Joe Lawlers. The two recorded nearly 200 records together, including some of Minnie's most enduring work. She retired from performing and recording in the 1950s due to failing health.

Memphis Slim (1915-1988)

John Len Chatman, later known as "Memphis Slim," was born in Memphis in 1915. Growing up with a musically inclined father, Slim began performing in honky tonks in the 1930s. Slim teamed up with Big Bill Broonzy in 1939 and performed in Chicago clubs. He recorded and performed steadily throughout the 1940s and 50s with big bands and small groups. He set out on a European tour with Willie Dixon in 1960. He moved to Paris in 1962, playing and touring Europe for the remainder of his life.

Bowlegs Miller (1934-1987)

Note ceremony 1/22/11. Gene "Bowlegs" Miller was a trumpeter and band leader. He grew up on Beale Street and, as a child, was a street dancer along with his brother "Baby Ray" Miller," dancing for tips. He played in bands led by Finis Newborn and Tuff Green and later led bands of his own, playing at legendary clubs such as Club Paradise, Club Handy, Curry's Tropicana, and the Flamingo Room, as well as at concerts organized by WDIA. He helped promote the careers of Ann Peebles, Peabo Bryson, and many others.

Little Milton (1934-2005)

Born Milton Campbell in Inverness, Mississippi, "Little Milton" first recorded with Sam Phillips at Sun Records before moving to East St. Louis and Bobbin Records, where his career became more successful. His career took off when Chess Records signed him, and a series of hit singles followed. With the demise of Chess in 1969, Little Milton moved to Stax Records. He continued to perform and record up until his death in 2005.

Andrew "Sunbeam" Mitchell (1906-1989)

Note ceremony 1/30/13 at Schwab's. The music promoter and club owner was a powerful force in Memphis music for decades, operating venues such as Club Ebony, Club Handy, Club Paradise, and the Mitchell Hotel. The list of performers who played his clubs is long and legendary – B.B. King as an opening act for Louis Jordan, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Johnny Ace, Ike and Tina Turner, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Fred Ford, Stan Kenton, Lou Rawls, Little Richard, Denise LaSalle, Joe Simon, Count Basie, Albert King and Tyrone Davis.

Boo Mitchell (1971-  ) 

Lawrence "Boo" Mitchell is an American musician, songwriter, audio engineer, record producer, and owner of Royal Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. He is best known for his work with Al Green, Bruno Mars, Bobby Rush, William Bell, Solomon Burke, Anthony Hamilton, Rod Stewart, John Mayer, 8 Ball, Lamont Dozier, William Bell, and Cody Chesnutt. Mitchell began working with his father at a young age, accumulating rare credits and abilities. His own career began at age 17 when he played keyboard on one of Al Green's gospel albums, which later won a Grammy award. Mitchell continued to work on albums alongside his father. He has been a producer/engineer at Royal Studios from the early 90s through the present. Lawrence Boo Mitchell won a Grammy for his engineering work on the 2016 Record of the Year, Uptown Funk. Mitchell joined Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars onstage when they accepted the award at the ceremony in Los Angeles in May 2016.

Willie Mitchell (1928-2010)

Born March 23, 1928, in Ashland, Mississippi, Mitchell was raised in Memphis, where he began to play the trumpet. After he was discharged from the military in 1954, he became a popular trumpet-playing bandleader. In 1959, Mitchell signed on with Hi Records and released a string of singles. When studio owner Joe Cuoghi died in 1970, Mitchell found himself the new boss of Hi Records. Mitchell and Hi had great success with Al Green and Ann Peebles and was known for its Hi Rhythm Section, featuring the Hodges brothers. Mitchell left Hi at the end of his contract. He continued in the recording business, running his Royal Recording Studios until his death. Al Green recorded again with Mitchell in 2003 and 2005.

Chips Moman (1936-2016)

Note ceremony 11/6/10. Musician, producer, writer, and champion of music, Moman has had an amazing career. He has produced records for a wide variety of artists, including Carla Thomas, Elvis Presley, Ringo Starr, B.J. Thomas, Neil Diamond, Dusty Springfield, and The Box Tops. His versatile ability as a songwriter made hits for artists from Aretha Franklin (Do Right Woman, Do Right Man) to Waylon Jennings (Luckenbach Texas). In 1985, he produced the Class of '55 album with Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins.

Arnold "Gatemouth" Moore (1913-2004)

Born on November 8, 1913, in Topeka, Kansas, Arnold Dwight "Gatemouth" Moore is noted for his series of blues compositions, including "Did You Ever Love A Woman," "I Ain't Mad At You, Pretty Baby," and "Somebody's Got To Go," and was employed by bandleaders Tommy Douglas and Walter Barnes in the 30s and 40s. Moore went on to become a minister, where he left his love of blues to concentrate on gospel music. Moore's later recordings were heard around the gospel circuit on many religious radio stations and television programs. In 1977, Moore recorded his first full album, Great R&B Oldies.

Scotty Moore (1931-2016) 

Scott "Scotty" Moore III was an American guitarist and recording engineer. He is best known for his backing of Elvis Presley in the first part of his career, between 1954 and the beginning of Elvis's Hollywood years. Rock critic Dave Marsh credits Moore with the invention of power chording on the 1957 Presley song "Jailhouse Rock," the intro of which Moore and drummer D.J. Fontana, according to the latter, "copped from a '40s swing version of 'The Anvil Chorus.'" [2] Moore was ranked 29th in Rolling Stone magazine's list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time in 2011. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2015. The Rolling Stones lead guitarist Keith Richards had said of Moore, "When I heard "Heartbreak Hotel," I knew what I wanted to do in life. It was as plain as day. All I wanted to do in the world was to be able to play and sound like that. Everyone else wanted to be Elvis; I wanted to be Scotty." 

Blind Mississippi Morris (1955- )

A native of Clarksdale, MS, and blind since age 4, Blind Mississippi Morris is the embodiment of the Delta bluesman. Rated one of the ten best harmonica players in the world by Bluzharp Magazine, Morris has taken the Delta blues worldwide from his Memphis home. As a duo, he and his guitarist are peerless — they instinctively know each other's every move. And when Morris fronts the Pocket Rockets, get ready for a classic R&B "throw-down" from some of Memphis' finest players. When he's not traveling the world playing blues festivals, Morris is often found on stage at B.B. King's and Blues City Cafe on Beale Street.

Mud Boy and the Neutrons (founded 1973)

In 1973, Lee Baker, Jim Dickinson, Sid Selvidge, and Jimmy Crosthwait joined forces to create one of the area's most noted – and notorious – super groups called Mud Boy and the Neutrons, which influenced the Memphis alternative rock scene from the 1970s through the 1990s. The group was best known for deliberately making their offbeat public performances rare, special events. Dickinson worked to get Mud Boy and the Neutrons a recording contract through Warner Brothers, but their demo was never released. Meanwhile, each of the members had successful individual careers. They eventually released three albums on labels like New Rose Records (France) and Koch International. After the murder of Baker in 1996, the band temporarily disbanded before performing a couple of retirement shows.

Charlie Musselwhite (1944- )

Charlie Musselwhite was born on January 31, 1944, in Kosciusko, Mississippi, and his musically inclined family moved to Memphis when he was three years old. Charlie later headed to Chicago, hanging out with Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin' Wolf, and Big Walter Horton. After playing the guitar and harmonica in a couple of shows with a long-time buddy, John Lee Hooker, Charlie started his own band which released the famous Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite's Southside Band album in 1966. Since then, Charlie has released more than twenty albums. He has won eighteen W.C. Handy Blues Music Awards and has received six Grammy nominations as well as multiple Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Newborn Family (founded 1947)

In the mid-1940s, the Newborn Orchestra included father and bandleader Finas on drums, older son Phineas on piano, and younger son Calvin on guitar. They played for a few years at the Plantation Inn in West Memphis, leaving to tour with Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats. Each was a fine musician in his own right. Phineas moved to New York in 1956 and became one of the finest jazz pianists in the nation, playing with Oscar Pettiford, Wild Bill Davis, Joe Jones, and others. He toured Europe and worked on the West Coast before physical and mental health problems sidelined his career. Calvin's leaping stage antics were a sight to behold, and he later toured with Lionel Hampton and Count Basie, among many others.

Floyd Newman (1931-2023)

Note ceremony 11/1/2015. Floyd Newman was a bandleader, instructor, and saxophonist. At the legendary Plantation Inn in West Memphis, he led a band that featured a young Isaac Hayes on keyboards and famed Hi Rhythm Section drummer Howard Grimes. He was a mainstay at Stax, playing with Otis Redding, Booker T & the MGs, Isaac Hayes, and more. He also played with Jackie Brenston, BB King, Sam Cooke, and many others.

Jimmy Ogle

Jimmy Ogle is a lifelong Memphian who has worked in history, museums, tourism, parks, and recreation over the past forty years in the public scene. He has managed Tom Lee Park, Mud Island River Park, Memphis Riverboats, Beale Street Entertainment District, Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum, and Beale Street Landing during his time and was the sixth Duckmaster ever at The Peabody Hotel. In his spare time, he also operated the scoreboard for all basketball games at The Pyramid and FedEx Forum for 20 years. Jimmy was appointed the third-ever Shelby County Historian by the Shelby County Commission in 2014. Beginning in 2008, Jimmy has conducted over 150 free talks and tours annually around the Memphis area for schools, senior citizen residences, and civic groups, as well as offering over 50 free public walking tours in Midtown, Downtown, and along the Riverfront.

Herbie O’Mell (1935-2018)

Note ceremony 6/10/12. O'Mell has had a long and varied career in entertainment in Memphis and the Mid-South as a music promoter and publisher, nightclub operator, casino insider, travel agent, and movie location scout. His involvement and contributions have been historic, and he continues to be active in promoting Memphis music and entertainment culture. He was a founding member of the Memphis NARAS Chapter, and he put together the city's first integrated band. He has served on the Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission for 25 years, six of them as chairman. He's been the personal manager to Jerry Lee Lewis, Ronnie Milsap, and Jim Dickinson. He was the business manager of Dan Penn and for Chips Moman and his 3-Alarm Studio. He is also the producer of the TV show "Memphis Sounds with George Klein."


Corey Osborn (1985-2008)

Corey Osborn was born in 1985. At age 15, the guitar prodigy entered the International Blues Challenge competition, which opened the door to Beale Street performances. The Corey Osborn Band played regular shows in B.B. King's Blues Club from 2003 to 2008, with Corey even being invited onstage to perform songs with B.B. King himself. The Corey Osborn Band released their only album in 2004, as Osborne was killed in an untimely automobile accident on November 28, 2008.

Kevin Paige (1966- )

Kevin Paige, a talented singer and musician, began playing on Beale Street in the late 1980s at Club Handy and then at Alfred's, where he has continued to perform weekly for over 20 years. He had several Top 40 hits of his own in the 1990s and served as Debbie Gibson's opening act on her world tour in the early 90s. Since then, he has performed on songs recorded by such artists as Martina McBride, 3 Doors Down, Better Than Ezra, and Todd Agnew. In addition to his continuing club work on Beale, Paige also leads music for the contemporary worship service at Lindenwood Christian Church in Midtown Memphis.

Pete Pedersen (1925-2002)

Pete Pedersen had a hit record with "Peg O My Heart" in 1947 as a member of the Harmonicats. He played with various groups before going solo in the mid-1950s. Over the years, Pedersen would perform at countless music festivals and harmonica-related events. He moved to Memphis in 1969 to become a writer for William B. Tanner (later known as Media General), where he wrote, arranged, and recorded thousands of classic jingles, songs, and scores. Acknowledged as one of the world's finest harmonica players, he also wrote two concertos for harmonica.

Ann Peebles (1947- ) 

Note ceremony 10/12/2013. Recording at Hi Records, Peebles had hits with "I Can't Stand the Rain," "I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down," and more. From working with Bowlegs Miller and Willie Mitchell then to Cyndi Lauper now, Peebles has maintained a great voice and talent.

Judy Peiser (1945- )

Peiser is the American co-founder and executive director of the Center for Southern Folklore in Memphis, Tennessee, United States. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Illinois and a master's degree from the University of Memphis. Peiser founded the Center for Southern Folklore in 1972 along with William Ferris. Peiser has produced and edited documentary films, including Fannie Bell Chapman: Gospel Singer, Gravel Springs Fife and Drum, and Ray Lum: Mule Trader, available on the Folkstreams project's website. In interviews, she has cited a desire to meet and understand different people as one of the main motivators for her work.

Carl Perkins (1932-1998)

Note ceremony 8/13/10. From the cotton fields of West Tennessee, Perkins heard blues music, and from this family radio, he heard the country music of the Grand Ole Opry. From these influences, he pioneered rockabilly. His hit "Blue Suede Shoes" made him famous. He recorded at Sun Studios.

Tommy Peters (1955-2021)

Note ceremony 5/3/11. Opening the west end anchor to Beale in 1993, Peters' highly successful B.B. King's Blues Club offers top-quality music and food. He has since opened similar clubs in other cities.

Dewey Phillips (1926-1968)

"Daddy-O" Dewey Phillips was one of rock 'n' roll's pioneering disk jockeys. Dewey's career began at Memphis' WHBQ-AM, where he was the city's leading radio personality for nine years and was the first to simulcast his "Red, Hot & Blue" show on both radio and television. Phillips' on-air "hillbilly" persona included a frantic delivery and entertaining sense of humor. However, he also had a keen ear for music the listening public would enjoy, and he embraced both black and white music, which was abundant in post-World War II Memphis. He played a great deal of rhythm and blues, country music, boogie-woogie, and jazz, as well as Sun & Stax Records artists. In July 1954, he was the first DJ to broadcast the young Elvis Presley's debut record. When the station eventually adopted a Top 40 format, Phillips' freeform style was phased out. After working at smaller radio stations for a while, Phillips died of heart failure at age 42.

The Phillips Family 

There may be no more important family intertwined in the history of Memphis, the history of Memphis music, and credited with the success of music legends than the Phillips family. Through their many ventures, such as Memphis Recording Service, Sun Records & Sun Studio, they worked with countless music legends such as B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Howlin' Wolf, Rufus Thomas, Ike Turner, and many more. Members of the Phillips family are members in the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame, Country Music Hall of Fame, Blues Hall of Fame, Memphis Music Hall of Fame, and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

Knox Phillips (1945-2020)

His long involvement with Memphis music production included engineer, producer, and studio owner. He was involved with hits for Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Amazing Rhythm Aces, John Prine, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many more. He also worked placing songs in television and film. Knox was instrumental in the founding of the NARAS – Memphis chapter.

Sam Phillips (1923-2003)

Samuel Cornelius Phillips was born in Florence, Alabama, in 1923. Phillips majored in broadcasting and landed his first job at a radio station in Alabama. The radio station's open format allowed Phillips to play music by both white and black musicians, which would later inspire his work in Memphis. On January 3, 1950, Phillips opened up the "Memphis Recording Service" where he created his label, Sun Records. At Sun, he recorded and helped launch the careers of many world-renowned artists such as B.B. King, Junior Parker, Howlin' Wolf, Jackie Brenston, Rosco Gordon, Little Milton, Bobby "Blue" Band, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many more.

Charles "Skip" Pitts (1947-2012)

Note ceremony 12/5/10. Skip Pitts is best known for the wah-wah guitar intro to Isaac Hayes' "Theme from 'Shaft.'" He was born in Washington, DC, and moved to Memphis in 1970 while playing with the Isley Brothers. He spent over 35 years recording and touring with Isaac Hayes. He also played with Al Green, Rufus Thomas, Teenie Hodges, Wilson Pickett, and many others. Pitts has given back to the community by serving as a music instructor for the Stax Music Academy. He was currently playing with The Bo-Keys.

David Porter (1941- )

Born November 21, 1941, David Porter started his music career as a Stax house composer. Joined later by Isaac Hayes, the songwriting duo created hits such as "Soul Man, ""When Something Is Wrong With My Baby, "and "Hold On, I'm Comin'". When Hayes decided to pursue a solo performing career, Porter began to release singles for Stax and later other labels, sometimes under other names and sometimes in partnership with Ronnie Williams. David Porter was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame on June 9, 2005.

Elvis Presley (1935-1977)

Born in Tupelo, Mississippi, Elvis Aaron Presley moved with his parents to Memphis in 1948. His curiosity and fascination with music began at a young age, leading him to explore all kinds of music and learn from performers of all styles. Elvis met Sam Phillips at Sun Studios in 1953 when he came to record two songs for his mother's belated birthday present. With manager Col. Tom Parker, Elvis gained national exposure performing on The Steve Allen Show and The Ed Sullivan Show. During his time in the U.S. Army, Elvis met his future wife, Priscilla. Elvis Presley's career included significant accomplishments in the music world and in Hollywood films. Elvis charted more songs on Billboard's Hot 100 than any artist before him. The King of Rock and Roll died in Memphis in 1977 but continues to be a worldwide icon and an inspiration to the music world. His home, Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee, attracts over 500,000 visitors each year.

Di Anne Price (1952-2013)

Note ceremony h7/21/2013. Singer, pianist, entertainer, and beloved soul who passed too soon.

Norbert Putnam (1942- )

Norbert Putnam is a legendary Producer, musician, and Nashville and Muscle Shoals studio musician. He played on 126 Elvis hits, and if you have a favorite artist from the '60s or '70s, he probably produced them or played on their hits.

Larry Raspberry & The Highsteppers (formed 1969) 

Note ceremony 9/12/15. Larry Raspberry was previously honored with a Beale Street Note for being the leader of the Memphis-based band The Gentrys, who charted several hit records in the 60s. In 1969, he started the Highsteppers and has been playing worldwide ever since. Many of Memphis' best musicians have played with the Highsteppers. Alums of the Highsteppers include Keith Sykes, Bill Marshall, Joel Williams, Doug McMinn, Tommy Cathy, Josh Haynes, Susan Marshall, Jackie Johnson, Reba Russell, Robert Nighthawk, Jim Spake, and at least 50 other names.

Reba Russell Band (formed 1980s)

Reba Russell is synonymous with the Memphis Music scene. Beginning early in the 1980s (with bands Visions, Portrait, and Reba and the Portables) and currently fronting the Reba Russell Band, Reba has covered most bases in the music industry. She is a published songwriter, vocalist, guitarist, backing vocalist, bandleader, producer, and touring and recording artist. Reba Russell and her band tour throughout the United States and Europe and have released 8 Independent Albums. She is a highly respected Memphis studio/session vocalist and perhaps more popularly known as a powerful live performer.

Richard Ranta (1944- )

Dr. Richard Ranta, the founding Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts at the University of Memphis retired from that post after 39 years; he has spent a total of 44 years on staff at U of M. He joined the faculty in 1972. During this time, he made a tremendous impact in music, both on and beyond campus. He was responsible for the University's Rudi Scheidt School of Music. He started Blue Tom Records and was the General Manager of High Water Records. He has served on the Memphis/Shelby County Film & Television Commission board and is a trustee of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. For 25 years, he has served as part of the GRAMMY Awards national broadcast production team, and for 30 years, he has supplied questions for WREG's weekly local Knowledge Bowl program.

Otis Redding (1941–1967)

Otis Ray Redding, Jr. was born in Dawson, Georgia. He began singing in the church choir at age five. As a teenager, Redding performed in a talent show at the Douglass Theatre for fifteen weeks in a row. As a young man, Otis was in a group called Love Twist but moved on to tour with Johnny Jenkins and the Pinetoppers. In 1962, Otis recorded "These Arms of Mine" through Volt Records, a subsidiary of Stax Records, which was the first of his many hits. Redding died on December 9, 1967, in a plane crash with many members of the Bar-Kays.

Johnny Robertson (1955-2003)

Johnny Robertson was a restaurateur who came to Beale Street very early on in the redevelopment era and had a tremendous impact on the growth of clubs and restaurants. Robertson opened Alfred's at the corner of Beale & Third in 1986 and operated his club for 17 years up until his death. The first club owner to come to the street with significant restaurant experience, Robertson played a key role in developing Beale Street BBQ, Club Handy, Pee Wee's Oyster Bar, Big Mamas, Joyce Cobb's, and Dyers on Beale. He served as president of the Beale Street Merchants Association for 10 years. Robertson was named one of President Geo. H. W. Bush's 1,000 Points of Light in recognition of his efforts in organizing an annual Thanksgiving lunch for the homeless and impoverished, which eventually outgrew Beale Street and moved to the Cook Convention Center. He died in 2003 of cancer.

Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms and The Wampus Cats (formed 1978)

For over 30 years, Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms has been playing and recording with Blues greats and also entertaining folks with his own four-piece band, The Wampus Cats. He has appeared on stage with some of the greats of the music business, such as Little Milton Campbell, Billy Lee Riley, Muddy Waters' harp player Mojo Buford, and toured the world with the Reba Russell Band for over twenty years. He recorded eight CDs with Reba's band, has two Wampus Cats CDs, and is featured on recordings by Rob Jungklas, Willie Foster, Fred Sanders, and Miranda Louise. He hosts the annual Hammond Organ Symposium during the International Blues Challenge held by the Blues Foundation. Nighthawk has performed at the Blues Music Awards and is a regular contributor to American Blues News. The Cats were one of the first bands to play on Beale Street during its initial revitalization way back in 1986, and they still play on the street regularly today.

Robbie Rose 

For years, Robbie Rose has been behind the soundboard at Rum Boogie Cafe, meticulously mixing and polishing every note, every beat, and every voice to earn her reputation as one of the best engineers in the industry. Musicians love her, and each night, a new audience delights in her work. Prior to her time on Beale, she toured the world with the Marshall Tucker Band, among others, and spent years as a lauded studio engineer in Nashville.

Bobby Rush (1933- )

Note ceremony 10/9/10. A veteran of the "chitlin' circuit," Rush is a blues legend and a true entertainer. In addition to playing clubs and festivals, he is a goodwill ambassador playing for US troops abroad and, in 2010, playing at the Great Wall of China. Born in Louisiana, he moved to Chicago at age 13 with his family and managed to form a band that included Freddie King, Luther Johnson, Bobby King, and Luther Allison. He also performed in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, with Boyd Gilmore and Johnny' Big Moose' Walker. He later moved to Jackson, MS, and has since traveled the world.

Irvin Salky (1941-2017) 

Irvin Salky was an attorney whose passion for Memphis music greatly impacted the city. He managed Furry Lewis, Fred Ford, Phineas Newborn, Jr., and others. He also founded the Beale Street Music Festival in 1977. Salky's ties to Beale Street go back much further; his father operated a pawn shop and clothing store on Beale, and he was immersed in the music and culture of the old Beale Street. Irvin Salky's work with many musicians of all genres is best described by music historian Robert Gordon; he was a sage and experienced advisor to many people. In addition to music, Salky worked for civil rights in Memphis. These areas sometimes merged, as when he brought the Dave Brubeck band to Memphis in the early 1960s, only to have the black bass player denied a room in the same hotel as the white musicians.

Sam & Dave (formed 1961)

After meeting in the gospel music circuit, Samuel David Moore, born on October 12, 1935, and Dave Prater, born May 9, 1937, joined together to form what their fans called "The Sultans of Sweat" in 1961. Soon after the duo began working together, they caught the attention of Steve Alaimo, who signed them to Marlin Records. After some moderate success with Marlin and later Roulette Records, they were signed by Jerry Wexler to Atlantic and sent to Stax in Memphis to develop their sound. The duo then collaborated with songwriters Isaac Hayes and David Porter to produce hit records such as "Hold On, I'm Comin," named the #1 song of 1966. Many other hits followed, such as "Soul Man" and "I Thank You," as well as performances at major events and on television. They split in 1970. Moore began performing solo following Prater's death in a car wreck on April 9, 1988.

Fred Sanders (1940-2011)  

Note ceremony 3/18/11. Now seen playing in Handy Park daily, Sanders was a house guitarist at the old Club Paradise, where he played alongside B.B. King, Bobby Blue Bland, Albert King, and many others. He played at Blues Alley on Front Street. In 2009, he was honored at the W.C. Handy Heritage Awards.

Sherri Sawyer (1957–2010)

Note ceremony 12/19/10. Longtime station manager of WREC/WEGR, Sherri, played an essential role in events promoting Beale Street, charitable causes, downtown, and the city for the many years the stations were housed at 203 Beale Street.

Jerry Schilling (1942– )

A Memphis native, Jerry Schilling met Elvis Presley at the age of twelve. Their relationship began during a neighborhood football game and continued, with Schilling becoming one of Presley's bodyguards years later. Schilling built a career in the music industry, managing The Beach Boys and Jerry Lee Lewis and working with Billy Joel. After years of living on the West Coast, Schilling returned to Memphis in 1999 to head the Memphis & Shelby County Music Commission. Schilling served as producer and consultant on film projects about Elvis and wrote a book about the King entitled Me and a Guy Named Elvis: My Lifelong Friendship with Elvis Presley.

Sid Selvidge (1943-2013)

Born in Greenville, Mississippi, in 1943, Sid Selvidge was a musician, songwriter, anthropologist, record label owner and radio producer. A slight man gifted with a honey-sweet voice, he was woven into the fabric of Memphis music on many levels, influencing a generation of aspiring artists. His talent was unmistakable, and while still a college student, he began performing around town and making records. Music was everywhere in Memphis in the 1960s, and studios and independent record labels flourished. During this time, he met lifelong friend and musical collaborator Jim Dickinson at the theater that Dickinson had started in the early 1960s. His first album was recorded in 1969 for Enterprise Records, a subsidiary of Memphis-based Stax Records. The album, "Portrait," was an attempt at popular music and featured Sid in a band setting. He had another chance to work with Don Nix as a producer in 1971. Sid Selvidge died in May 2013 after a prolonged battle with cancer. Beale Street Caravan is still heard weekly on hundreds of radio stations worldwide.

Will Shade & the Memphis Jug Band (1898–1966)

The Memphis Jug Band played in the 1920s and 1930s, recording over 100 songs between 1927 and 1934. The central figure of the band was Will Shade. The rest of the band, personnel, and instrumentation were continuously ebbing and flowing. At times, the instruments featured might include rhythm guitar, kazoo, mandolin, harmonica, violin, an empty gallon jug, or whatever else a musician might have on hand on any given day. Shade played, among other things, a "bullfiddle" made from a washtub, broom handle, and string. The public lost interest in jug bands, and the Memphis Jug Band disbanded in 1935. Shade continued to assemble novelty bands until he died in 1966.

Preston Shannon (1947–2018)

Born in Olive Branch, Mississippi, Shannon's family moved to Memphis when he was eight, where he developed strong vocal and guitar talents. Shannon's career began when he toured for a couple of years as a member of soul singer Shirley Brown's band. Fronting his own band since 1991, Preston is one of the area's busiest musicians playing on Beale and throughout the Mid-South, occasionally playing international dates as well. He recorded two albums through Rounder Records, with a third album produced by Willie Mitchell nominated for a Grammy Award.

Reverend James Smith (1941-2012)

As chairman of the Beale Street Development Corporation, Rev. James Smith led the redevelopment team's selection process after several unsuccessful attempts to formulate a development plan. He also served as head of the local AFSCME (American Federation of State, County, & Municipal Employees) and is thus considered a National Civil Rights Museum founder.

Jack Soden (1946- ) 

Mr. Jack Soden has been the Chief Executive Officer of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. since May 1990 and also serves as its president. Mr. Soden served as Executive Director of the Graceland Division of Elvis since June 1982. He has been a Director of The Greater Memphis Chamber since December 2015. Mr. Soden is active on the boards of various Memphis charitable institutions, including The National Civil Rights Museum, the Professional Advisory Board at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and the Society of Entrepreneurs. 

The Staple Singers (formed 1948)

Roebuck "Pop" Staples organized The Staples Singers around 1948 when he asked his children Cleotha, Pervis, Yvonne, and Mavis to appear in Chicago churches with him. The family signed their first recording contract in 1952 and would go on to record gospel-folk-style music for various labels. Under Epic Records in 1965, the group began recording more mainstream pop music. In 1968, The Staple Singers moved to Memphis-based Stax Records. Later, the group began to record at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and Memphis' Ardent Studios, where they would move toward funk and soul. Under the Stax label, their 1971 release of "Respect Yourself" peaked at number two on the R&B charts and the number twelve spot on the pop chart. The Staple Singer's biggest hit came in 1973 with their single "If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)." The Staple Singers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.

Stax Records (founded 1957)

Stax Records was founded as Satellite Records by Jim Stewart in 1957 and initially operated out of a garage. Originally concentrating on mostly country music, Stewart began to adopt more rhythm and blues when he met disc jockey Rufus Thomas. Rufus Thomas and his daughter Carla eventually released Satellite's first hit in 1960, "'Cause I Love You." This drew the attention of Atlantic Records, which became interested in distributing Satellite's records. Satellite officially became Stax in 1961 when Jim Stewart and co-owner Estelle Axton combined their last names to form "Stax." Stewart and Axton eventually hired Steve Cropper, Booker T. Jones, Lewis Steinberg, Al Jackson, Jr., Donald "Duck" Dunn, and the Memphis Horns as house musicians. Among the stars to emerge from Stax were Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Isaac Hayes, and many more. In 1972, the Stax label presented a major concert in Los Angeles called Wattstax, which drew an audience of over 100,000 people. Unfortunately, Stax went bankrupt in 1975. Stax was reopened to the public in 2003 as the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and the Stax Music Academy.

The Steinberg Family (Martha Jean, Luther, Milton, Lewie, Wilbur, Nan, Diane) 

Note ceremony 11/14/10

  • Milton Gus Steinberg (pianist and patriarch 1910 – 1950s) Performed in Beale Street saloons such as Pee Wee's and the Monarch. He also played with W.C. Handy in New Orleans and on Beale Street.
  • Nan Steinberg (vocalist 1930s – 1940s) performed with Fats Waller and various swing bands, including Andy Kirk, Dickie Wilson, Trummy Young, Bunny Berigan, and others.
  • Morris Steinberg (saxophone) performed with Rufus Thomas and his Bearcats, Lionel Hampton, Willie Mitchell, B.B. King, and Cab Calloway.
  • Luther M. Steinberg (trumpet/piano) Jazz musician, arranger, and composer. He played with Lionel Hampton, among others, and led the first black band to play on television in the Mid-South. Luther was the last to play W. C. Handy's personal trumpet before it became a permanent museum artifact during the re-dedication of W. C. Handy Park. When Handy became too ill to perform, Handy would send his personal trumpet for Luther to perform in his place.
  • Wilbur Steinberg (vocalist and bass player) Performed club dates and recording sessions locally with many Memphis musicians during the 1950s, '60s, and '70s, including Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, Phineas Newborn, Rufus Thomas, B. B. King, Bobby Bland, and others.
  • Lewie Steinberg (bass/trumpet), House bass player at Stax in the early '60s, was the original bass player with Booker T & the MG's and played on the classic "Green Onions." He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.
  • Martha Jean Steinberg started as a DJ with WDIA in 1954. She went on to DJ in Detroit and became the first black woman to own a radio station. She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
  • Diane Steinberg-Lewis (Pianist/ Singer/ Songwriter/ Producer/ Actress/ Teacher) Recorded for Atlantic, ABC, RSO, and Word Records. She appeared with Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees as "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" and in the RSO film, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." She sang background for Rod Stewart, Steve Miller, LAX, Lalo Shfrin, Lee Oskar, David Pomeranz, and others.

Frank Stokes (1888–1955)

Born in 1888 in Whitehaven, Stokes was raised by his stepfather in Tutwiler, Mississippi, after his parents' death. He soon learned how to play guitar. At age twelve, Stokes worked as a blacksmith, traveling to Memphis every weekend to perform. In 1910, Stokes joined the Doc Watts Medicine Show. In 1920, Stokes stopped touring and settled in Oakville, Tennessee. He went back to work as a blacksmith and also played for local parties, saloons, and fish fries. Stokes joined Kelly's Jug Busters and then played Beale Street with longtime collaborator Dan Sane as the Beale Street Sheiks. Their first recording as the Beale Street Sheiks was released in 1927 on Paramount Records. Later, the duo moved to Victor Records. Stokes and Sane cut thirty-eight sides between Paramount and Victor Records. Stokes later moved to Clarksdale, where he occasionally performed with Bukka White. Stokes died of a stroke in Memphis, Tennessee, on September 12, 1955.

Joellyn Sullivan (1955- )

Joellyn Sullivan is a restaurateur who came to Beale Street early on in the redevelopment of the Beale Street Entertainment District with her late husband, Silky Sullivan, when they opened Silky O'Sullivan's, where guests can hear dueling pianos, drink divers, or watch the famed drinking goats. Joellyn Sullivan annually hosts the Silky Sullivan St. Patrick's Parade, which has been running for 51 years. 

Silky Sullivan (1942–2013)

Thomas D. "Silky" Sullivan was a club owner, occasional political candidate, international BBQ promoter, and full-time character. He opened Silky's in Overton Square in 1972 and later brought a more expansive version of his Irish/Southern Fun to Beale Street. 

Keith Sykes (1948- )  

Keith Sykes has had more than 100 songs recorded by artists as diverse as Roseanne Cash and George Thorogood. He has toured every corner of America and played in almost every conceivable venue. He's appeared on Saturday Night Live and Austin City Limits, played live radio shows, and hosted songwriter shows on Beale Street in Memphis and in Hot Springs, Ark. Appearing with many of music's best songwriters, including John Prine, Jerry Jeff Walker, Richard Leigh, Teenie Hodge, Steve Earle, Guy Clark and many more. He was a member of Jimmy Buffett's Coral Reefer Band, and recordings of his songs have sold over 25 million copies worldwide.

Koko Taylor (1928–2009)  

Note ceremony 5/10/12. Born in Memphis in 1928, Taylor signed with Chess Records in 1956 and remained a top blues singer until she died in 2009. She received 25 Handy Awards, and her last performance was at the Blues Music Awards program in Memphis Two weeks before her death.

Nokie Taylor (1941-2020)  

Note ceremony 10/6/12. Trumpet great Nokie Taylor was born March 6, 1941, in Orange Mound in Memphis. Nokie played on many Top 10 R&B hits that came out of Stax Records in the 60s & 70s (Sam & Dave & Eddie Floyd, etc.), he toured with Isaac Hayes for many years, played on Cybill Sheppard’s “Vanilla”, Big Star’s “Third”, plus several Alex Chilton & Tav Falco-Panther Burns LPs, and played in venues ranging from Cafe Soul to Jazz-A-Fire. Later in his career, he continued to play on Beale Street with Memphis powerhouse, FreeWorld. Despite his success, Nokie was always humble about his professional accomplishments, never boasing about those he had played with, even though his discography was broad & impressive.

Carla Thomas (1942– )

Born in 1942 in Memphis, Carla Thomas spent much of her childhood at the Palace Theater, where her father, Rufus Thomas, emceed. Carla's access to the theater sparked her interest in music, and she began her musical career at age ten when she was part of radio station WDIA's Teen Town Singers. Carla recorded her first album with Satellite Records (later renamed Stax Records) in the 1960s. Her most famous single is "Gee Whiz." After appearing on the television show American Bandstand, Carla released five more albums, including her popular single "B-A-B-Y" and the Otis Redding collaboration, King and Queen. After her last record with Stax, Carla took a break from show business. Carla began to occasionally perform again in the 1980s. She received the prestigious Pioneer Award in 1993 and was also featured in the 2003 documentary Only the Strong Will Survive, which showcased notable Stax recording artists.

Marvell Thomas (1941–2017)  

Note ceremony 2/19/11. Son of Rufus Thomas, Marvell is a talented keyboard player who has been working in studios (Stax, Muscle Shoals) since he was 17 and has gigged a wide variety of artists as both keyboard player and arranger, including Johnnie Taylor, The Staple Singers, Little Milton, The Emotions, Albert King, Mavis Staples, Yvonne Elliman, and Etta James. Marvell also co-produced and played keyboards on the multi-platinum album "Hot Buttered Soul," which launched the career of Isaac Hayes.

Rufus Thomas (1917–2001)

Born in Cayce, Mississippi, in 1917, Rufus Thomas moved to Memphis with his family at age two. Thomas made his acting debut at age six in a school play and was a skilled tap dancer by age 10. He joined the Rabbit Foot Minstrels in 1936 and started at WDIA in 1951, hosting an afternoon show called Hoot and Holler. Rufus was also an emcee at Memphis' Palace Theater. He began his recording career in 1943 for the Star Talent label and later recorded at Stax, producing hits like "Walking the Dog." For years, Rufus performed at the Porretta Soul Festival in Italy. He had a number of small film roles, including one in Mystery Train. He continued performing right up until his death.

Three 6 Mafia (formed 1991)

Three 6 Mafia is an Academy Award-winning rap group that originated in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1991, DJ Paul (Paul Beauregard), Lord Infamous (Ricky Dunigan), and Juicy J (Jordan Houston) recruited fellow Memphis rappers Koopsta Knicca (Robert Cooper), Gangsta Boo (Lola Mitchell), and Crunchy Black (Darnell Carlton). The group's membership varied from album to album. The only constants were Juicy J and DJ Paul. In 2005, Three 6 Mafia won an Academy Award for their song, "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," which was featured in the locally-filmed motion picture, Hustle & Flow. After their win, Crunchy Black left the group to make a solo album. Juicy J and DJ Paul got their own reality TV show on MTV called Adventures in Hollyhood.

Tigrett Family

Stalwart music supporter Isaac Tigrett founded both the Hard Rock Café and House of Blues, while his stepmother Pat Kerr Tigrett is the founder and driving force behind the annual Blues Ball, which celebrates Memphis music of all kinds.

Justin Timberlake (1981– )

Justin Randall Timberlake was born in Memphis in 1981. Growing up in Millington, Justin began by singing country music for Star Search. In 1993, Justin joined the cast of The Mickey Mouse Club. When the show ended in 1994, Timberlake joined fellow Mouseketeer J.C. Chasez and singers Lance Bass, Joey Fatone, and Chris Kirkpatrick to form the popular boy band NSYNC. He recorded his first solo album in 2002 and then embarked on an acting career with roles in five films between 2004 and 2007. He has won numerous Grammy Awards, collaborated with artists from Madonna to the Black Eyed Peas on recordings, opened three restaurants and a golf course, created a brand of tequila, and continues to succeed in a wide variety of areas.

Otha Turner (1907-2003) 

Note ceremony 2/2/12. Turner, who lived near Como, Mississippi, kept alive a very old, pre-blues tradition of fife and drums music. Making a fife from cane, he played with a family group called the Rising Star Fife & Drum Corps. Though he received a great deal of media attention – from appearances on Good Morning America to All Things Considered and much more – he continued farming. Renowned for his Labor Day picnic celebrations featuring barbecued goat, it was appropriate that his 1998 album was entitled Everybody Hollerin' Goat. A track from that album was used in Martin Scorsese's 2002 film Gangs of New York.

Mary Unobsky (1956- )

Mary Unobsky is a Memphis-born Grammy-nominated songwriter, music producer, and performer. She conceived and directed two national music conventions on Beale Street designed to showcase Memphis musicians, which produced over $10m in direct economic benefit to Beale Street and downtown Memphis. Mary had songs recorded by Anita Baker, Patti LaBelle, Bonnie Raitt, Maurice White, and Dusty Springfield. Mary also served on the National Grammy steering committee.

Mose Vinson (1917–2002)

Mose Vinson was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi. The family moved to Memphis when he was young, and Vinson began to teach himself to play piano at an early age. He later played his rollicking barrelhouse-style piano at local juke joints. In the 1950s, Vinson worked as a part-time clean-up man and part-time piano accompanist at Sun Studios, where Sam Phillips occasionally asked Vinson to accompany musicians such as James Cotton. During his time at Sun Records, Mose cut his own tracks, which were not released until the 1980s. In the early '80s, the Center for Southern Folklore hired Vinson to perform at special cultural festivals and local schools, and he soon became a regular attraction at the Center, where he remained for twenty years of declining health but spirited performances. He released his first full-length CD through the Center in 1997.

Cato Walker and Family

Cato Walker, Jr. drove B.B. King's tour bus from 1952 until 1976. His wife, Polly Walker, also worked in B.B. King's organization, usually coordinating travel and communicating with concert promoters. Polly worked for King from 1965 until a month before her death and received a W.C. Handy Heritage Award in 2007. Cato Walker III worked in King's band as a sax player and music director until 1979. Cato III also served as a music director at Stax and tour manager for Lou Rawls before joining Performa in 1982. He currently operates a consulting firm.

Dick Waterman  (1935- ) 

Agent, manager, producer, and promoter Dick Waterman is the only person inducted into The Blues Hall of Fame who was not either a performing artist or a record company executive. He established himself in the Blues community as a diligent advocate for the artists and the art of Blues. Waterman is primarily known today as an archivist and photographer of Blues, Country, Rock, and Jazz legends from Mississippi John Hurt to Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton. His commitment to documenting the Blues artists he worked with and came into contact with throughout the years is legendary.

Brad Webb (1951- )

Brad Webb was born and raised in Memphis. He got his first guitar and started playing gigs at 15 (1966); as early as 1966, Brad and his cousin Nick Kourvelas (who played drums) would take the bus downtown to check out Beale Street. He joined the Navy during the Vietnam War, and when he got out, he started to play with people like Roland Robinson from Eddie Floyd/Buddy Miles Band. Then Brad met his cousin, the famous Teenie Hodges from the Hi Rhythm Section. Brad has been producing, writing, recording, and playing guitar with Blind Mississippi Morris since 1986. They all performed with Uncle Ben and His Nephews as Beale Street came alive again in the mid-80s. Brad started Webb Studio in 1985; he wanted to record a lot of the music he was hearing. The first people Brad recorded were Uncle Ben, Ollie "Nightingale" Hoskins, and Roosevelt Briggs. He went on to record CDs with Willie Foster, Fred Sanders, John Weston, Henry Townsend, Blind Mississippi Morris, Eric Hughes Band, Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms and The Wampus Cats, Phillip Dale Durham of the 60s local favorite "Moloch," and The Pocket Rockets featuring Suzanne Buell. Brad continues to record local musicians at his studio and teaches guitar. He also hosts the weekly Memphis Blues Society Sunday Evening Jam at Rum Boogie.  

Jerry Wexler (1917–2008)

Born in the Bronx, New York, Gerald "Jerry" Wexler grew up to be an editor, writer, and reporter for Billboard magazine. After coining the phrase "rhythm and blues," Wexler became involved in the recording business, working with Stax Records, the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Atlantic Records, and Warner Brothers Records. Over the span of his career, he worked with a wide range of artists, including Ray Charles, the Drifters, Ruth Brown, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, and George Michael. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

Kirk Whalum (1958- )

Kirk Whalum (born July 11, 1958) is an American jazz saxophonist and songwriter. He toured with Whitney Houston for more than seven years and soloed in her single "I Will Always Love You," the best-selling single by a female artist in music history. Surrounded by music from an early age – in his father's church, around his piano teacher grandmother, seeing his uncle Hugh "Peanuts" Whalum on a home stop from his jazz touring – Whalum found his calling. Over the past three decades, his saxophone skills have been sought after in studios, on tour, in clubs, in concert halls, and across continents. His versatility with the instrument defies genre. He has worked with artists ranging from Barbara Streisand to Babyface, Al Jarreau to Quincy Jones, and Whitney Houston, with whom he toured for seven years. Whalum appears on over 200 albums and 30 of his own solo recordings, including his Gospel According to Jazz series. He won a Grammy for Best Gospel Song in 2011. Whalum is also an ordained minister with a Master of Arts in Religion from Memphis Theological Seminary. He produces the Bible in Your Ear podcast. He served as an unofficial chaplain for the Whitney Houston tours.

Bukka White (1909–1977)

Born Booker T. Washington White near Aberdeen, Mississippi, in 1909, "Bukka" White started his career playing the fiddle at square dances. He first recorded for Victor Records in 1930 and then for folklorist Alan Lomax in 1939 while serving time. White gave his younger cousin, B.B. King, his first guitar. After Bob Dylan covered White's song, "Fixin' to Die Blues," White was rediscovered in 1963 and once again recorded. Later, he teamed with his friend Furry Lewis to record an album called Furry Lewis, Bukka White & Friends: Party! White died on February 26, 1977.

James Williams (1951–2004)

Note Ceremony 11/23/2013. James Williams was born in 1951 in Memphis. He earned a degree in Music Education at Memphis State but was also immersed in Gospel and jazz. Beginning in his teen years, he was an organist at Eastern Star Baptist Church. As a fan of Phineas Newborn Jr., he spent time with Harold Mabern, Jamil Nasser, George Coleman, and Frank Strozier. He accepted a teaching position at Berklee in his early 20s. In the Boston area, he played with many touring musicians, including Milt Jackson, Sonny Stitt, and Red Norvo. Later, he spent four years as part of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, where he played with Wynton Marsalis and others. He struck out on his own in the mid-80s, playing and recording with various lineups and forming his own trios for performance and recording. He returned to music education as well. Williams died of liver cancer in 2004.

Nat D. Williams (1907-1983)

Nat D. Williams became the first black radio announcer in Memphis when he began broadcasting for WDIA in 1948. He also wrote for the newspaper from 1928 until the early 1970s and taught at Booker T. Washington High School for 42 years. Williams then went on to become a co-founder of the Cotton Makers Jubilee and is credited with giving the celebration its name. Williams is noted for beginning "Amateur Night" on Beale Street in 1935 at the Palace Theater. He retired from radio and teaching following a stroke in 1972.

Rudy Williams (1941-2011)

A fixture on Beale Street with his solo trumpet playing outside of King's Palace Café or leading processions for many years, Rudy Williams, may well be the most recognizable face on Beale Street in the modern era. His father bought him a trumpet when he was in elementary school, and Williams taught himself to play by ear. The band director at Booker T. Washington allowed him to play with the high school band after he found young Rudy playing along behind the bleachers. He has been playing on Beale Street off and on since he was 13 years old. After retiring from the Defense Depot, he spent much more time on Beale, and his photos with tourists have literally made his face known around the world. He passed away in 2011 and is sorely missed.

Gerald Wilson (1918–2014)

Gerald Wilson was an American jazz trumpeter, big band bandleader, composer, arranger, and educator. Born in Mississippi, he was based in Los Angeles from the early 1940s. In addition to being a band leader, Wilson wrote arrangements for Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Ray Charles, Julie London, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Carter, Lionel Hampton, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, and Nancy Wilson. During World War II, Wilson also performed for a brief time with the U.S. Navy with Clark Terry, Willie Smith, and Jimmy Nottingham. Around 2005, many of the members of the band reunited as "The Great Lakes Experience Big Band," with Wilson conducting and Ernie Andrews making a guest appearance at the invitation of Clark Terry. Wilson also played and arranged for the bands of Benny Carter, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Dizzy Gillespie. In June 2007, Wilson returned to the studio with producer Al Pryor and an all-star big band to record a special album of compositions commissioned and premiered at the Monterey Jazz Festival for the festival's 50th anniversary. Wilson had helped lead celebrations of the festival's 20th and 40th anniversary with his specially commissioned works (1998's Grammy-nominated album Theme for Monterey). The album Monterey Moods was released on Mack Avenue Records in September 2007. In September 2009, Wilson conducted his eight-movement suite "Detroit," commissioned by the Detroit Jazz Festival to mark its 30th anniversary. The work includes a movement entitled "Cass Tech" in honor of his high school alma mater. In 2011, his last recording was the Grammy-nominated Legacy.

Ruby Wilson (1948–2016)

Ruby Wilson, better known as The Queen of Beale Street, has performed for many years at B.B. King's nightclub as well as at numerous festivals and events. Born in Texas, she has been singing since age 16. She moved to Chicago and then Memphis, where she has been thrilling audiences with a raw and lively form of vintage blues for decades. Over the years, she has performed with such artists as Ray Charles, Danny Thomas, B.B. King, The Four Tops, and Willie Nelson. She has performed at the White House and before royalty in Europe. She has also had cameo roles in nine motion pictures filmed around the Memphis area, including Cookie's Fortune and Black Snake Moan. 

Ernest Withers (1922-2007)

Photographer Ernest Withers was a photojournalist who captured iconic images of the civil rights movement on film, documenting over sixty years of African-American history in the face of injustice. Among the wide array of people he photographed during his career, standouts include baseball players Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays and music legends such as Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Ike and Tina Turner, Ray Charles, and Aretha Franklin. Withers worked in a studio on Beale Street until his death in 2007 and left behind a legacy that can be found in museum collections and books, including Let Us March On, Pictures Tell the Story, The Memphis Blues Again, and Negro League Baseball. Wither's work has been archived by the United States Library of Congress and is part of a permanent collection in the Smithsonian. His work can be viewed on Beale Street at the Withers Collection Museum & Gallery.

Charlie Wood (1967- )

Note ceremony 10/15/2014. A versatile player, adept at jazz, blues, R&B, and more, Charlie Wood served as the house musical anchor at King's Palace for several years and attracted many fine players to sit in and jam. The singer, songwriter, and arranger is now living and playing in the UK. 

Evelyn "The Whip" Young (1928-1990)

Evelyn Whip Young, a saxophone player on Beale Street beginning in the early 1940s, was nicknamed because she played the instrument with flamboyance and hit her notes with vigor. A product of Manassas High School and the famous Rhythm Bombers, she became a professional musician at age 14. She played on Rufus Thomas' first recording in 1943. IN 1952, she worked with Bill Harvey to pull together a band for B.B. King and spent the next several years touring with him. She led the house band at Club Handy on Beale, and later joined the Blues Alley All Stars. She sang as well as played sax and, over the years, worked with performers including Little Richard, Little Milton, Memphis Slim, and Bobby Blue Bland. Young passed away in 1990.