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

Elvis Presley left his building, Graceland mansion, in the back of an ambulance heading for Baptist Hospital the afternoon of August 16, 1977.

The paramedics who attended him before departure, and his personal physician who pounded, pleaded and coaxed, knew what we all would learn shortly. An era had ended. Presley had travel plans to head for Portland, Maine to kick off a concert tour that very night, but those dates would be tragically unfulfilled.

In 1965, Memphis bands made their mark on the Billboard charts, with top 5 spots attained by Sam The Sham and the Pharaohs and the Gentrys. Elvis Presley just missed out on the top 10 with “I’m Yours” and “Puppet On A String.” Wilson Pickett came to town and teamed with the folks at Stax for “In The Midnight Hour.”

Citric acid and sodium bicarbonate react with water to produce carbon dioxide and sodium citrate. Toss in some aspirin and a healthy dose of Madison Avenue snake oil, and you have the panacea that launched some of television’s most memorable advertising campaigns.

Giving Otis His Propers

Jul 11, 2012

Coming off of the biggest chart success of his career to date, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,“ Otis Redding reeled off two 1965 singles which included songs destined to become iconic tunes, not for Otis, but for the acts which covered them later.

Isaac, David and Samuel are familiar names to biblical scholars, and not at all unfamiliar to faithful fans of the funky sound that emanated from the Stax studio on McLemore.

Sam and Dave came to Stax in an arrangement with Atlantic Records. The duo viewed it as punishment, but it would be the best thing that ever happened to their careers.

Is there any group of kids who put together a band for a high school talent show that didn’t, in the back of their minds, think they just might have a shot at, you know, the big time? And out of the few that stay together past graduation, is there any band who wasn’t secretly dying to hear a song they recorded in a garage, or, if they were lucky, in a studio, played back on the local radio station that first time?

When the Beatles came to Elvis Presley’s Bel Air home in 1965 for a meeting orchestrated by managers Brian Epstein and Colonel Tom Parker, John Lennon asked if Elvis had any ideas for his next movie project. Elvis said he would probably play a country boy with a guitar who meets a few girls and sings a few songs. Elvis couldn’t keep a straight face long after making that statement, and laughingly explained that the only time one of his films strayed from that format was the only time he came close to losing money on a movie.

When Atlantic Records took an interest in what was happening in Memphis at Stax, an intriguing comparison of the greenness of grasses took place. When it came to making records, there was a New York way, and there was a Memphis way.

For a couple of years there, Sam The Sham was the real deal. Almost in tribute to his name, Sam had the first record to be named Billboard’s number one song of the year which hadn’t actually held the number one position during the year. And it probably won’t come as a surprise that Sam wasn’t even really his name.

In May, 1963, Elvis Presley spent a couple of days in RCA’s Studio B in Nashville working on an album project. Fourteen songs were recorded, of which “Devil In Disguise” and “Please Don’t Drag That String Around” were immediately siphoned off as a single. The balance of the tunes never did coalesce as a unit, but were parceled off as single B-sides or album filler.