Rob Grayson

Host - Morning Edition

My heroes have always been disc jockeys. I especially admired the ones who could take the canvas of the fourteen-second intro of a teeny-bopper song and paint a masterpiece.  From my youth, I strove to emulate them.  I had the good fortune to walk in some of their footsteps, albeit a respectful pace behind. 

The Mississippi Delta in the 70's was a great place to begin a career in radio.  My first after-school job was doing the afternoon shift at an easy-listening FM in my hometown of Greenville at age 14. 

George Klein brought me to Memphis, and WHBQ, in 1976.  Most of the ensuing time has been spent in the general Memphis radio community, and producing and engineering at Wilkerson Sound Studios. 

I landed on the WKNO doorstep in 2001, and am tickled that they continue to let me show up here every morning. 

Ways To Connect

Otis Wows 'Em Out West

Dec 27, 2013

What do the records “California Dreaming” and “The Rain the Park and Other Things” have in common? Besides being the first big hits for their respective bands, The Mamas & the Papas and The Cowsills, they generated lots of money for songwriters, John Phillips and Artie Kornfeld. Those songwriters would eventually fund two of the major rock music festivals of the 1960s: Monterey Pop and Woodstock.

Reverend C. L. Franklin was no stranger to the recording business.  In fact, he was a pioneer in using broadcast and recorded media to expand the reach of his pulpit out into the world. His daughter, Aretha, was also no stranger to the business of recording as she grew up.  Born in Memphis, she followed as her father’s gifts and calling moved the family from New Salem Baptist Church, first to Friendship Baptist in Buffalo, New York, then to New Bethel Baptist in Detroit.

Highway 72 begins in the east in Chattanooga, runs through Alabama and Mississippi before reaching its western terminus in Memphis.  In fact, it is the only US highway to have both termini in the same state but pass through other states in between the end points.

We remember 1967 as a year which brought us “Lucy In The Sky (With Diamonds)” as well as “Judy In Disguise With Glasses.” But it was also the year Elvis Presley’s recording career began to wake from a deep slumber.

To get a perspective on Presley’s music in 1967, you have to go back to sessions in 1966 and 1961. His music career was still being driven by his movie commitments, and still being hamstrung by his management’s insistence on exclusively cutting songs owned by their publishing company.

Over the course of time, Ronnie And The Devilles had two Ronnies and two Jordans.  Eventually they would become the first band to cut a record in Memphis which hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100, but by that time there were no Ronnies, no Jordans, and they weren’t the Devilles any more. 

Stax '66

Feb 12, 2013

Before the Beatles came to Memphis for the August, 1966 concert, their manager Brian Epstein came to scout Memphis as a potential recording destination. The band was anxious to expand their aural horizons, and their interest in the R&B sounds coming from the states along with their respect for the technical sound coming from the records recorded in Memphis, led Epstein to get in touch with Atlantic Records. Atlantic turned the project over to Stax, and in March, 1966, Epstein booked into the Rivermont and set about to explore the possibilities.

If you called to book a session at American Studios on Thomas back in the mid-1960’s, chances are you would talk to a lady named Sandy Posey. Similarly, if you were a song publisher wanting to interest producer Chips Moman in recording one of your tunes, receptionist Sandy Posey would be the first person you would talk with. Perhaps the conversation would turn to the fact that Sandy herself was a singer. All supposition aside, for one industrious song plugger, that information turned into a opportunity to say, “Sandy, I think I have something that just might be a perfect fit for you.”

Beatles Bomb In Memphis

Jan 22, 2013

Elvis Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker, went into the mid 1960’s with a strategy.  He repositioned Elvis from a singer who made movies to a movie star who made records.  This simple distinction successfully locked in millions of dollars in upfront movie money, and successfully detached Presley from depending on the fickle whims of the demographics which drove disc sales.

  

  

Around our house, whenever an MGM movie starts, if my wife doesn’t say it first, I’ll chime in: “You know, that lion came from the Memphis Zoo.” The lion’s name was Volney, by the way, and the roar was in fact recorded in the old Carnivora building at the zoo. He died in 1944.

Elvis '66

Aug 31, 2012

The title of the article, written by Maureen Cleave and published in the London Evening Standard in early 1966 was “How Does A Beatle Live?” Buried in the middle of quips and quotes were typical brash John Lennon throwaway lines. “Christianity will go,” he said, “it will vanish and shrink.” John added, “We’re more popular than Jesus now.” Virtually unnoticed at the time, the lines were quoted ala carte in an American teen magazine that summer, and the backlash they drew in the states hit its peak right around the time of the band’s appearance at the Mid-South Coliseum.

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