Details from the rest of that day are still questioned, but this is what is known: Perkins and Lewis were later joined by Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, and the foursome held an impromptu jam session.
A newspaper wrote, “This quartet could sell a million.” Shortly after they were known as “The Million Dollar Quartet.”
The session was a reunion for Cash, Perkins, and Presley, who had toured the South together in 1955. Lewis was still a star on the rise, but quickly bonded with Presley over their shared knowledge of spirituals. Cash’s presence is still debated by historians; some say that he was only there for a short time and quickly left. This seemed to be confirmed on season recordings, in which you can’t hear The Man in Black at all. However, in Cash’s autobiography, the country music legend attributes his relative absence on the recordings to the fact that he was singing in a higher register than usual to help blend better with Presley.
The recording session retains its historical significance as a landmark event in the age of Rock n’ Roll, and a milestone for the genre in the ever-changing world of the 20th century popular culture and mass media. In the decades that ensued, The Million Dollar Quartet in 1956 has often been referred to as the “Mount Rushmore of Rock n’ Roll.”
Million Dollar Quartet captures the contagious spirit, freewheeling excitement, and thrilling sounds of the once-in-a-life-time event where four of music’s best talents came together.