Memphis TN – Blues, R&B and The Pyramid

by | Nov 16, 2019

This is the second trip Joan and I made to Memphis TN over the last 4 years. Our first visit was all about Elvis and a night on Beale St. But this time we want history of Memphis music with a daytime visit of Beale St along with stops at the Rock n Soul Museum, Sun Records and we couldn’t leave without a stop at the Stax Record Museum. While music is a huge draw for all things Memphis, there’s one amazing place we had to see – the iconic Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid. All made a very interesting day experiencing the sights and sounds of Memphis.

Beale Street

Memphis TN Beale StOur first stop was Beale St. Walking along the street, peaking inside the many music venues, shops and restaurants, Joan and I both agreed this area is one of the coolest places in Memphis. As we walked along the street, great blues music was coming from all directions. If you visit Beale St, make sure you go to B.B King’s Blues Club. Great music and the barbeque is good too. But there’s much more to feed that blues music craving. There’s Alfred’s on Beale, Silky O’Sullivans, Jerry Lee Lewis’ Honky Tonk, Tin Roof and the list goes on and on. We also wanted a quick Memphis style lunch before we left Beale St. and stopped at King’s Palace known for the excellent gumbo.

Rock n Soul Museum

Memphis TN Rock N Soul MuseumAt the corner of Beale St. and B.B. King Blvd. we found the Memphis TN Rock n Soul Museum. The self-guided tour provided a look into the history of not only Memphis music, but the artists and many contributors who made an impact in blues, R&B, Rock and so much more. This museum starts with the roots of the blues, originating in the farms and fields of the south. Displays show many of the early artists who were inspired by the work songs from the fields which created the classic American genre of music.

The museum contained music, videos, displays of instruments and recording equipment from the 1930s through the 1970s along with a classic mixing board from Ardent Studios where so many of my favorite artists recorded. I was amazed to see how the many artists and the city of Memphis set the tone for so much music and impacted musicians from around the world.

Sun Studios

Memphis TN Sun StudioOut next stops was Sun Studios which many tout as the birthplace of Rock and Roll. Here, young up and coming artists from the 1950s and 60s including Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and so many more started their music careers. Known first as Rockabilly, this Memphis inspired music soon migrated to be known as Rock and Roll and set the foundation for many artists and new forms of music.

The bottom floor contains a small café along with a wide variety of merchandize. The upstairs contains the original recording studio. We wanted to take the tour, but 3 tour buses unloaded as we arrived and it would have been several hours before we could tour. A visit downstairs and some mechanize met our immediate needs.

Stax Records

Memphis TN Stax Records MuseumNext was the Stax Record Museum. Sharing a love of R&B from my teen years growing up in Macon, GA, I couldn’t leave Memphis TN without a visit to the Stax Record Museum. Otis Redding from Macon, GA was one of Stax biggest stars. There were several displays dedicated to his career, but there was so much more. This list of Stax artists and their memorabilia seemed to be endless including Al Green, Booker T and the MGs, Wilson Picket, the Mar-Keys, Carla Thomas, Sam and Dave, Isaac Hayes, the great R&B guitarist – Steve Cropper, and so many more.

Music was everywhere. Many of the artist’s costumes and other memorabilia were displayed along with the wild gold Cadillac owned by Isaac Hayes. The studio had been recreated with much of the original mixing board, amps, speakers and instruments. It was amazing to think of all the great music and artists who stood next to this equipment and recorded so much great music. The last stop was a long corridor which had hundreds of album covers, gold and platinum records all recorded at Stax.

Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid

Memphis TN Bass Pro Shops at the PyramidSure, Joan and I came for Memphis music, but we had to stop at one of the most unusual retails outlets in the US, Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid. 535,000 square feet of retail space dedicated to outdoor activities, this Bass Pro Shops was something to experience. From the building’s origin as a sports venue, the skyboxes have not been converted into a 103 room wilderness hotel with private screened porches overlooking the man-made cypress swamp retail space below.

The space is massive with fishing and pleasure boats floating in the indoor stream, clothing, upstairs gun center, fishing gear and so much more. Two restaurants are located on the main floor along with a bowling alley, aquariums, live alligators and a 28-story freestanding elevator to the glass observation deck. One of the most unusual experiences to be enjoyed by everyone.

Additional information:

Rock N Soul Museum –
Sun Records –
Stax Museum –
Memphis Beale St. –
Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid –

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