Peter Guralnick at the Cambridge Public Library


The Birth of Rock 'n' Roll:
The Illustrated Story of Sun Records
and the 70 Recordings That Changed the World

in conversation with BILL JANOVITZ


December 6, 2022
6:30 PM ET


Cambridge Public Library
449 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02138


$0.00 (Free RSVP Required)

Harvard Book Store welcomes PETER GURALNICK—Grammy-winning music writer—for a discussion of his new book The Birth of Rock 'n' Roll:The Illustrated Story of Sun Records and the 70 Recordings That Changed the World. He will be joined in conversation by author and musician BILL JANOVITZ.

A Return to In-Person Events

Harvard Book Store is excited to be back to in-person programming. To ensure the safety and comfort of everyone in attendance, the following Covid-19 safety protocols will be in place at all of our Cambridge Public Library events until further notice:

  • Masks are recommended but not required.
  • In order to join the signing line, face coverings will be required.


RSVP for free to this event. PETER GURALNICK will sign copies of his book purchased at the event. 


About The Birth of Rock 'n' Roll

In Memphis, Tennessee, in the 1950s, there was hard-edged blues playing on Beale Street, and hillbilly boogie on the outskirts of town. But at Sam Phillips’ Sun Records studio on Union Avenue, there was something different going on – a whole lotta shakin’, rockin’, and rollin’.

This is where rock ’n’ roll was born.

Sun Records: the company that launched Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and Carl Perkins. The label that brought the world, “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Breathless,” “I Walk the Line,” “Mystery Train,” “Good Rockin’ Tonight.”

The Birth of Rock ’n’ Roll: 70 Years of Sun Records is the official history of this legendary label, and looks at its story in a unique way: through the lens of 70 of its most iconic recordings. From the early days with primal blues artists like Howlin’ Wolf and B.B. King to long nights in the studio with Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis, you will see how the label was shaped and how it redefined American music. Accompanying the recordings is the label’s origin story and a look at the mission of the label today, as well as “Sun Spot” sidebars—a fascinating dive into subjects such as how the iconic logo was created, the legendary Million Dollar Quartet sessions, and how the song “Harper Valley, PTA” funded the purchase of the label.

Written by two of the most acclaimed music writers of our time, Peter Guralnick and Colin Escott, and featuring hundreds of rare images from the Sun archives as well as a foreword by music legend Jerry Lee Lewis, this is a one-of-a-kind book for anyone who wants to know where it all started.

Bill Janovitz
Bill Janovitz

Bill Janovitz

Bill Janovitz is the author of two books on the Rolling Stones: Exile on Main Street for the Bloomsbury 33 1/3 series, and Rocks Off: 50 Tracks That Tell the Story of the Rolling Stones for St. Martin's Press. He is one of the three founding members of the Boston-based band, Buffalo Tom, who formed in Northampton in 1986 while students at UMass Amherst.

Photo Credit: Kelly Davidson

Peter Guralnick
Peter Guralnick

Peter Guralnick

Peter Guralnick's books include the prize-winning two-volume biography of Elvis Presley, Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love. Guralnick won a Grammy for his liner notes for Sam Cooke Live at the Harlem Square Club as well as writing the scripts for the Grammy-winning documentary Sam Cooke/Legend and Martin Scorsese’s blues documentary Feel Like Going Home. His biography of Sam Cooke, Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke, was hailed as “monumental, panoramic, an epic tale told against a backdrop of brilliant, shimmering music, intense personal melodrama, and vast social changes.” His 2015 biography of Sam Phillips, Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll, was named one of the Best Books of the Year by the New York Times and was a finalist for the international Plutarch Award for Best Biography of the Year.

Cambridge Public Library
449 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02138
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(617) 661-1515

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