On a summer’s day in 1953, an 18 year-old truck driver dropped into Sun Studios in Memphis and did what a lot of people did in those days: recorded a cheap acetate of him singing. Elvis Presley recorded two songs that day: “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin.” It cost him about $4, the equivalent of about $35 today.
Legend has it that the acetate was supposed to go to his mom as a birthday present, but on his way home, he stopped at the place of his friend, Ed Leek, who, unlike Presley, actually had a record player. For some reason, though, he left the record behind at Leek’s place. It was forgotten.
Meanwhile, Marion Keisker, the woman who assisted Presley with his session, told her boss, Sam Phillips, about what she’d heard that afternoon. It wasn’t long before Phillips tracked down Presley and set him on the road to becoming The King. Rock’n’roll followed. Meanwhile, that fragile, ancient acetate survived, thanks to Ed Leek.
That’s why we can make a serious argument for this being the Ur-record of all the rock’n’roll we have today. And there was beyond rare, with only one copy ever existence. How much is something like this worth?
The answer is $300,000. An auction was held last Thursday–Elvis’ 80th birthday–and an unknown Internet buyer had the winning bid.
Here’s what we’re talking about. It’s like listening to rock’s Big Bang.