Memphis' Musical Roots Memphis is synonymous with the blues. While the musical style has its origin in the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta, it was in the hazy clubs lining Beale Street where jug bands and electric guitar acts introduced the blues to urban ears. Sleepy John Estes, Furry Lewis, Memphis Minnie and W.C. Handy were among the first to define the sound, which relied upon harmonicas, mandolins, banjos and guitars as well as washboards, kazoos, jaw harps and jugs. While performing in PeeWee's Saloon on Beale, Handy put the song “Memphis Blues” to paper. Considered the first published blues song, it epitomized the city's sound, and the name came to describe blues with both a rhythm and lead guitar. Later, such legendary blues musicians as Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf and Ike Turner performed on Beale and recorded in Memphis. Nightclubs still line the blocks between Second and Fourth streets, and on any given night, you can hear blues, rock, jazz and country music in the air.
The city also reigns as the birthplace of rock ’n’ roll. When an 18-year-old Elvis Presley stepped up to the mic at the cramped Sun Studio, he claimed that his sound was like no other. And indeed, he changed the tune of American music. Initially coined as rockabilly, his first recording of “That's All Right (Mama)” was a unique combination of hillbilly and country and western that would soon be known worldwide as rock ’n’ roll. Following in the King's footsteps, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash also recorded at Sun Studio. Elvis built his white-columned Graceland estate in the mid-1950s and lived there until his death in 1977. Fans from around the world continue to visit the King's home and grave, and his birthday is a citywide holiday.
Soul music has ties to the city as well. Stax Records (which began as Satellite Records) and Hi Records attracted soul legends Otis Redding, Booker T. and the MG's, Isaac Hayes and Al Green, all of whom recorded in Memphis. Softer than other soul compositions, Memphis soul presented a sultry compilation of horns, organ, bass and drums.
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State sales tax is 7 percent; occupancy tax is 6 percent; and Memphis sales tax is 2.25 percent, for a combined lodging tax of 15.25 percent.
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Baptist Memorial Hospital, (901) 226-5000; Delta Medical Center, (877) 627-4395; Methodist North Hospital, (901) 516-5200; Methodist South Hospital, (901) 516-3700; Regional Medical Center at Memphis, (901) 545-7100; Saint Francis Hospital, (901) 765-1000.
3205 Elvis Presley Blvd. Memphis, TN 38116. Phone:(901)543-5300 or (888)633-9099
Domestic and foreign airlines serve
Discounts are offered to AAA members by Hertz, (901) 345-5680 or (800) 654-3131.
Amtrak offers passenger service from Central Station, 545 S. Main St.; phone (901) 526-0052 or (800) 872-7245.
The Greyhound bus station is at 3033 Airways Blvd.; phone (800) 231-2222.
The major company is Yellow Cab, (901) 577-7777. Fares are metered, with the basic rate $3.80 for the first mile, then $1.80 for each additional mile. One dollar is added for each additional passenger. A $3 surcharge is added to fares originating from the airport.
Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) buses operate Mon.-Fri. 4:30 a.m.-11:15 p.m., Sat. 7 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. and holidays 8-5. Base fare is $1.75, with increases for zones outside city limits; a day pass can be purchased for $3.50, and covers unlimited bus rides. Ages 65+, students and the physically impaired pay reduced rates with a special MATA ID card. Park 'n' Ride service is available at multiple locations within the city. Not all routes operate nights and Sundays.