The Formative Years of Rock ‘n Roll

In 1955, Elvis Presley toured through Jackson County, Arkansas four times. He had yet to be seen by the mass audience which would catapult him to international stardom. He was preceded by at least one generation of musicians who were playing the country, rhythm and blues, and western swing that was featured at nightclubs, juke joints and roadhouses along U.S. 67.

The Rock ‘N Roll Highway 67 shot straight through Jackson County and was the main artery through Northeast Arkansas from Little Rock to the Missouri border. A short drive from Memphis, Jackson County was a natural oasis for all musical talent willing to travel for a living.

Venues on the Rock ‘N Roll Highway 67

A wet county surrounded by dry ones and nightclub owners with money to pay nurtured the music pioneers who traveled the highway. Venues dotted the road. The most popular ones hosted all the major “Sun” recording artists from 1955 through 1959. Contemporaries of Presley including Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Conway Twitty, Sonny Burgess, and Billy Lee Riley were just beginning their careers. The clubs along 67 nurtured their talents and gave them greater abilities as performers to carry their music far from the South.