The SUN RHYTHM SECTION





MARCUS VAN STORY

(Slap Bass, rhythm Guitar, Harmonica and Vocals). Marcus was front man and road manager for the great Sun Artist "Warren Smith". He also worked with other artists at Sun - Charlie Feathers, The Miller Sisters and many more. Marcus is well known for his work in creating the Slap Bass sound that was used on many Rockabilly records in the 50s. Marcus passed away April 24, 1992.



SONNY BURGESS

(Lead Guitar & Vocals) Sonny was a recording artist for Sun Records and leader of a group called The Pasers, one of the most sought after Rockabilly bands of the 50s. He was known for his Sun recordings of Red Headed Woman and We Wanna Boogie. He is well known in Rockabilly circles.



J L "SMOOCHY" SMITH

(Piano & Vocals) One of the first Rockabilly piano players in Memphis, instrumental in creating the great Memphis Pumping Piano Sound. Played on numerous record sessions at Sun and other studios in Memphis and was an original member of The Mar-Keys and played on their monster hit, Last Night, that he was co-writer on.



J M VAN EATON

(Drums) The drummer found on most early Sun recording sessions.



STAN KESSLER

(Electric Bass) Staff musician and songwriter for Sun Records, playing steel guitar or Bass on many Sun sessions with artists such as Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and many more. He wrote five songs for Elvis including "I Forgot To Remember To Forget", that stayed on the music charts longer than any record Elvis recorded. He also produced "Wooly Bully" and Lil Red Riding Hood" by Sam The Sham and the Pharoahs.



PAUL BURLISON

(Lead Guitar) One of the best known Rockabilly guitar players of the 50's. Paul is best known for his guitar work with the Rock 'N' Roll Trio, and is co-writer of most of their songs. Paul created the first fuzz tone sound that was recorded on record. He has also worked with other great Rockabilly artists from Memphis.



also: D J FONTANA

(Drums) Elvis Presley's drummer. He also has recorded many record sessions all over the world.





The Sun Rhythm Section was made up of downhome veterans of the 1950s Memphis music scene associated with Sun Record Company. Now over three decades later they have banded together to play the music of their youth - music that rocked and shocked the world: rockabilly. The word-play of "rock 'n' roll" with "hillbilly" suggests the synthesis of this music. Many of the band members grew up in the rural lowland South working in close relation to Blacks on farms or hearing Black music in juke joints and honky-tonks. From field hollers and worksongs, to full blown rhythm and blues bands, the imprint of African-American style is essential. However, it's useful to remember that "Blue Moon of Kentucky" was the flipside to Elvis's first Sun record, the blues-inspired "That's Alright Mama," and a major portion of rockabilly has an Anglo country lineage.

The Sun Rhythm Section was formed in 1986 to participate in the Tennessee program at the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife. They have been together ever since touring America and the world, celebrating their roots of rock sound. Each band member brings a distinct personality and style to the group. Lead guitarist and vocalist Sonny Burgess is known for his sun recordings "Red Headed Woman" and "We Wanna Boogie." A salesman from Arkansas by day, he plays a hard-edged rockabilly guitar by night. Paul Burlison also plays lead and is known for his double string work and playing the first fuzz-tone sound. Burlison, now a contractor in Walls, Mississippi, outside Memphis, played guitar for the Rock-N-Roll Trio. A warm and engaging man, he recalls sneaking off as a child to river baptisms at the nearby Black church and later working a stint with his hero, bluesman Howlin' Wolf.

Silver-haired Marcus Van Story is the foxy grandpa of the group, singing and playing rhythm guitar, harmonica and standup bass. At seventy-one, he is living proof that you are never too old to rock and roll. Marcus worked with several Sun artists and early on provided the slap bass sound that became a trademark of the label. He also brings a minstrel dimension to the band with his jokes, trick harmonica and snake oil slick pitches. Mild-mannered bassman Stan Kessler has actually been involved in making some of the more explosive music to come out of Sun Studios. He wrote five songs for Elvis including "I Forgot to Remember to Forget," and also produced the classic "Wooly Bully" for Sam the Sham. Pianist and singer Jerry Lee "Smoochy" Smith was instrumental in creating the "Memphis pumping piano" sound. He was a member of the Mar-Keys and co-wrote their hit "Last Night." D.J. Fontana is the man who kept the beat for Elvis during much of his early and mid-career playing on dozens of hits and personal appearances. Fontana is from an Italian family in Shreveport and began playing strip joints and dance clubs at an early age. Perhaps as a result, his sense of timing and showmanship are impeccable. D.J. is best remembered for his machine-gun drum riffs on "Hound Dog." The group no longer exists.



1991, appearing with Jack Scott, Wanda Jackson and Carl Perkins





More About Sun

SUN STUDIO: History, Tours and Recording Information

The Sun "45s" #174 thru #407.


Photos courtesy: BLUESCITY1@aol.com

















Rockabilly Hall of Fame