A Trip Through Memphis Music History At The Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum
Updated January 2019
Memphis is a city loaded with musical history, and as a result, if you want to immerse yourself in our musical past, you’ve got plenty of options. There are musical landmarks all over the city, great record stores, and fantastic music-related museums and attractions. The thing is, in a city with so many options, it can be tough to know where to start.
The Rock’n’Soul Museum is a great place to get a fairly complete overview of Memphis music.
The tour of the museum takes you through the rural south of the Great Depression, a place where Southerners both black and white worked hard on their farms and enjoyed religious music, radio dramas and mail-order records played on Victorolas.
From there, the museum winds through the story of the way that gospel and country music came together to birth rock’n’roll and soul music without skipping any of the important parts. All of Memphis’s major history-making record labels are represented, including Ardent Records. There’s a special Box Tops / Big Star area towards the end of the museum as well as a special exhibit about Ardent Records’ contributions to music.
Because the Rock’n’Soul Museum is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution and located in Memphis (a city where people seem to hang on to everything), the collection of artifacts, clothing, recording equipment, photos, signs, and video.
There are microphones from WHER (Memphis’s only all-lady radio station) and WDIA, one of Sputnik Monroe’s wrestling costumes, the bandstand from American Bandstand, and an original “I am a man” poster from the civil rights movement.
If you don’t have time to see everything musical in Memphis, you should make a point to spend a little time at the Rock ’n’ Soul Museum. The museum is easy to get to and the tour lasts about an hour. Admission is $12.50 for adults and $9.50 for kids. Kids under 4 are free.
Open daily 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. (last tour begins at 6:15 p.m.)
191 Beale Street
Memphis, TN 38103