Memphis Man Who Discovered Elvis Dies

updated 07/31/2003 at 12:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/31/2003 5:23PM

Sun Music founder Sam Phillips, 80, who is credited for launching rockabilly music as well as the legendary careers of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash in the '50s, died Wednesday at Memphis's St. Francis Hospital, reports Reuters. No cause of death was reported.

Besides Presley, who was inarguably the Alabama-born Phillips's biggest discovery, the record genius is also credited with jumpstarting the careers of Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Charlie Rich and Roy Orbison. Cash developed his distinctive "boom chicka boom" sound in the Sun studios too.

As for Elvis, his start came the day in 1954 that he wandered into Phillips's little nondescript studios in Memphis, wanting to make a recording for his mother. Phillips reportedly dissuaded the future King from singing the hymn Elvis had in mind, and instead had him record "That's All Right, Mama."

In his later years, the modest Sun Studios, which was first founded in 1952, became a tourist destination. Visitors could observe the old-fashioned recording equipment still intact, the glass window behind which Phillips sat and the original microphones that captured the voices of unknowns on their way to becoming enduring stars.

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