A young Wigan musician recorded songs at the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll during a dream trip to the other side of the pond.
Joe Astley, from Abram, cut five songs at the iconic Sun Studio in Memphis in the very same room used by the King himself, Elvis Presley.
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The hour-long session at the venue widely regarded as one of the birthplaces of popular music came at the end of a madcap 24 hours following Joe’s realisation anyone could record at Sun in return for a fee.
He immediately hit the streets of the music-mad city looking for a guitar so he could write a song and realise his dream and eventually found a helper in the shape of local enthusiast Reginald Hill.
As well as Shadow on the Water, a tribute to the river rolling through Memphis, Joe also performed the Elvis track That’s Alright Mama for his mum Johanne, a massive fan of the iconic musician who had always wanted to visit his home at Graceland.
Joe, who also fronts local band Joe Astley and the Back Pages, also recorded a song for fiancee Dannielle Atkins during the 21st birthday holiday Stateside.
Joe said: “It was an amazing experience, I’m still coming to terms with it. I’m a big fan of rock ‘n’ roll so to record in that place was just brilliant.
“We were taking the tour and at the end I saw a piano in the corner that belonged to Jerry Lee Lewis. I’m a huge fan, I’ve got a tattoo of him, so I asked the guy if I could play the piano.
“I didn’t think anything would come of it but he said it was no problem. He really liked what I played so I asked if you could still record at Sun. He said it was $200 an hour and there was a five-hour minimum. I only had enough money for an hour so I managed to talk them round.
“I then got back to my hotel and realised I needed a guitar as I had to write a song. I hit Beale Street and went in every bar with $50 in my hand, asking to borrow a guitar off the wall. They couldn’t believe the nerve of it.
“Eventually this guy Reginald from the hotel said he would see what he could do. He ended up lending me his personal guitar and bringing it to me on his day off.
“I went back to my hotel and wrote the song and then got to the studio and managed to cut five songs in an hour. They’re rough demo tracks but they work really nicely.
“My mum was over the moon with the Elvis song and I got to record in the same room as him. Recording the song I wrote for Dannielle also meant a lot to her.
“I’ve always wanted to go there and I was on Beale Street every night. There was so much music, so much going on.”
Joe’s musical gifts also impressed the staff at the legendary studio.
Crockett Hall from Sun Records said: “In Memphis we are so spoiled for music that you can become a bit jaded but as soon as I heard Joe Astley I knew that he is the real deal.”
Joe has now put the songs on his Soundcloud and is rehearsing his newly-written track with his band.
He says the atmosphere in Memphis rubbed off on his composing, with Shadow on the River having a more southern influence and the sound of bands like Creedence Clearwater Revival than his other tracks.
He also cites the likes of Bob Dylan and The Beatles as major musical influences.
For more information search for Joe Astley and the Back Pages on Facebook or visit soundcloud.com/josephstephenastley