‘A Night to Remember’ Cast Recreates Perkins-Cash-Lewis-Presley Jam Session

Members of “A Night to Remember” perform.

Within the walls of Memphis, Tennessee’s Sun Studios on the evening of Dec. 4, 1956, one of the most musically historic jam sessions was underway. It involved four rock ‘n roll icons under the influence of pure chance.

In the nearly six decades since Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins recorded the jam session, it has been released (and rereleased) several times under varying names, from the original 17-track The Million Dollar Quartet in 1981 to the 47-track The Complete Million Dollar Session, which, as its name implies, indicates discovery of dozens more recordings from the evening.

It all began with singer-songwriter Carl Perkins (of “Blue Suede Shoes” success) who brought his brothers and a drummer into Sam Phillips’ Sun Studios to cut new material. Phillips had brought in singer and “piano man extraordinaire” Jerry Lee Lewis to amplify his rockabilly instrumentation and sometime in the afternoon, former Sun Studio artist Elvis Presley (at that time, represented by RCA) dropped in to pay a visit. He heard the playback of Perkins’ session and made his way into the studio, later to be joined by Sun Studio artist Johnny Cash, who was the first to have arrived that day with the intention of also listening in.

It was by sheer chance that the rockabilly-country-gospel-rock ‘n roll session was actually recorded, and we have engineer Jack Clement to thank for that, along with Memphis Press-Scimitar entertainment editor Bob Johnson, who dropped in for a photo opportunity and the following day, published the famed photo of Presley at the piano surrounded by Lewis, Perkins and Cash under the headline “Million Dollar Quartet.”

In 2007, the jam session inspired the stage musical, Million Dollar Quartet (written by Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott), which made it onto Broadway in 2010 and just three years ago, inspired the more music-centric tribute show, “A Night to Remember.”

The re-creation of that fateful night in December 1956 will make its way to Door Community Auditorium on July 11.

“We’re going to do all the songs they did that night they got together in 1956 in the studio in Memphis, Tennessee,” said John Mueller, musical director and “Carl Perkins” of “A Night to Remember.” “We also do some of their hits, some of Elvis’ RCA hits. They probably didn’t do some of them that night but if people are coming to see a young Elvis, they’re going to want to hear him sing ‘Hound Dog,’ and a couple more big hits otherwise we’re going to get run out of town.”

Blair Carman will bring his rockabilly piano style to the role of Jerry Lee Lewis, while Scott Moreau will lend his talents to Johnny Cash, Jacob Rowley will play the young, energetic Elvis, and Mueller takes on the role of Carl Perkins.

Audiences can expect some unscripted improv and historical tidbits, along with a stellar set list, including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” and “Hound Dog,” among others.

“We pay more attention to the authenticity of the music, getting the music to sound right,” Mueller said. “…We want them (the audience) to feel like they’re involved in this re-creation of this music and maybe have them feel like they actually would be at one of their concerts.”

“A Night To Remember” begins at 8pm on Saturday, July 11 at the Door Community Auditorium, 3926 Hwy. 42 in Fish Creek. Tickets range in price from $26 – 48. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call 920.868.2728.