Class of '55: Memphis Rock & Roll Homecoming

Class of '55: Memphis Rock & Roll Homecoming
Studio album by
Released May 26, 1986
Recorded September 17–20, 1985
  • Sun Studio (Memphis)
  • American Studio (Memphis)
Genre Country, country rock, rockabilly, rock and roll, gospel
Length 37:14
Label America/Smash
Producer Chips Moman
Roy Orbison chronology
Laminar Flow
Class of '55: Memphis Rock & Roll Homecoming
In Dreams: The Greatest Hits
Johnny Cash chronology
Class of '55: Memphis Rock & Roll Homecoming
Believe in Him
Singles from Class of '55: Memphis Rock & Roll Homecoming
  1. "Rock and Roll (Fais-Do-Do)"
    Released: July 1986

Class of '55: Memphis Rock & Roll Homecoming is collaborative studio album by Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, and Johnny Cash. it was released on May 26, 1986, by America/Smash Records, a subsidiary of Polygram Records. The album was produced by Chips Moman.

While the album was in part a tribute to Elvis Presley, it was mainly a commemoration of those young performing hopefuls, the four album participants, who — as had Presley — all began their careers with Sun Records in the 1950s. Recorded at Sam Phillips' Sun Studios and completed at American Sound Studios, the album was documented by Dick Clark Productions, which filmed it from start to finish; by The Commercial Appeal, the Mid-South's largest circulation newspaper; and by Nine-O-One Network Magazine, the first edition of which was sold with the album in a telemarketing package.[1]

The final song of the session, "Big Train (from Memphis)", written by John Fogerty, includes the blended voices of John Fogerty, The Judds, Dave Edmunds, Ricky Nelson, Sam Phillips, and June Carter Cash. Fogerty told a reporter that he was thinking about the old Sun Records sound when he wrote the song.[2] The extended finale of the song features the singers singing lines from various Sun Records songs, including "That's All Right Mama", "Blue Suede Shoes," "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On", "Folsom Prison Blues" and others.

Producer Chips Moman encountered a major issue following the recording sessions, as Cash was still under contract to Columbia Records at the time and proper permissions had not been obtained. Faced with the possibility of having to remove Cash's voice from the recordings, Moman paid Columbia $100,000 for the rights to keep Cash on the record.[3] At this time, the America/Smash label was affiliated with PolyGram, which in turn also owned Mercury Records to which Cash would sign shortly after recording Class of '55.

The recorded "Interviews from the Class of '55 Recording Sessions," written and produced by Rose Clayton, earned the 1986 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for the four performers, plus for producer Chips Moman, Sam Phillips and Ricky Nelson. For Nelson, it was his last recording session and only Grammy Award of his career.

A music video from Perkins' "Birth of Rock and Roll," starring Perkins, Lewis, and Ron Wood of The Rolling Stones, promoted the "Class Of '55."

Cash, Lewis and Perkins had previously collaborated in 1956 with the Million Dollar Quartet and in 1982 with The Survivors Live.

Dick Clark hosted a TV special with footage of the studio sessions aired on TBS in 1989.[4]

After being out of print for decades, the album was re-released separately and as part of the Cash box set “The Complete Mercury Recordings: 1986-1991.”[5]

Track listing


Chart performance and ratings

Chart (1986) Peak
U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums 15
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[6]