MEMPHIS, Tenn. Sam Phillips, 80, the rock 'n' roll icon and founder of the famous Sun Records Studio, died Wednesday June 29, 2003 at St. Francis Hospital in Memphis.
Phillips, a mainstay in the early Memphis blues and R&B scene, was instrumental in ushering in the era of electric blues central to the sound of black artists such as the legendary B.B. King and Howlin' Wolf one of the most electrifying performers in blues history.
In the segregated south of the 50s and 60s, Phillips stunned the industry by defying the rules of segregation and opening Sun Studio to both black and white recording artists with only quality and ability as the guidelines for signing artists.
Rock pioneers Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis careers were launched by Phillips at Sun Records, where he suggested they try a wild idea fusing rhythm and blues with country and western. As things turned out, it was a monumental idea that created the "rockabilly" sound of Elvis, Perkins and Cash.
Phillips, with his defiance of segregation and his very personal development of the blues, R&B and rock, is regarded as one of the most singular figures in American pop music history. He was elected to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.
No further details were released about the cause of Phillips death.