Performed by Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, is the “Million Dollar Quartet Piano” the largest in rock and roll history?
Featured on classic recordings by Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis – as well as countless other songs released on Sun Records in the 1950s – Sun Studio’s 1949 Wurlitzer Spruce is praised by the auction house which currently sells it as “rock’s most important piano and roll history”.
It’s a bold claim, admittedly, but when you examine the provenance of the instrument, it doesn’t sound so far-fetched.
The Wurlitzer was purchased by Sun Studio owner Sam Phillips in 1950 from the OK Houck Piano Store, located at 121 Union Avenue – the same street as his Memphis Recording Service and Sun Records.
It was also where Elvis Presley and his family bought their first piano and their first Martin guitar.
The piano was then played by Elvis during the legendary session of the Million Dollar Quartet in 1956, which also included Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. Classics such as Love Me Tender, Don’t Be Cruel and Paralyzed were among the songs played by Elvis, with Jerry Lee Lewis on the piano when five of the songs – including End of the Road and Crazy Arms – were recorded.
Lewis also played the Wurlitzer on his greatest hits, Great Balls of Fire and Whole Lotta Shakin ‘Goin’ On, as well as all the other songs he recorded for Sun Records.
In fact, between 1950 and 1960, the piano was the main sound on several of Sun’s most famous records. In 1961, Sam Phillips moved it to his home, and Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis are said to both perform there when they visit.
This is the first time the piano has been auctioned, and it was expected to sell for between $ 800,000 and $ 1,000,000. The auctions are now closed, but you can read more about the I must have rock and roll auction house website.