The music business is a continual hustle. Label owners must always be looking for the next charting artist and next hit song.
Barbara Barnes Sims saw this first hand when in her mid-20s she took a job as the publicist and radio promoter in 1957 for Sun Records in Memphis—the same Sun Records that is the main instigator and inventor of what we now know as rock ’n’ roll.
Her book details the three years that she worked for Sun after Elvis had left the label when they were continually searching for someone to replace him, whether it was Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, or many others.
Barnes writes great portrayals of those characters and more, including many insights into the man who recruited, recorded, and produced these artists, the great Sam Phillips.
She also shows with great details the rough and tumble world of the male-run radio and record business. Sims was right in the middle of the early days of rock ’n’ roll, and after she sees the grit behind the glitz, she has no qualms about calling it as she sees it.
The story is a great mix of the down home and the sophisticated with very little gossip in her fly-on-the-wall stories about these great musicians and the people who worked with them from Dewey Phillips to Cowboy Jack Clement.
Now, if someone would only write a New Orleans version of this.