March 21 might be a regular day to most people, but in the history of country music, it’s the anniversary of a day that changed our music forever. It was the day Sam Phillips fell in love with Johnny Cash — finally.
In 1954, a very young and naïve Johnny Cash wandered into Sun Records studio hoping to get a recording contract. Things were different back in those days and Sam Phillips, President and founder of Sun Records, agreed sight unseen to hear what Johnny had to offer. After bringing guitarist Luther Perkins and bassist Marshall Grant along and auditioning with a number of gospel songs, Sam shot him down — hard.
Sam told Johnny point blank that he wasn’t moved by his gospel songs because quite frankly, the world had heard that a hundred times. According to the Sun Records website, Sam told him to “go home and sin, then come back with a song I can sell.”
Johnny returned on March 21, and once again Sam sat down to hear what the young man had to offer. Once Johnny delivered the iconic “Hey Porter,” Phillips was won over.
The rest, as any country music fan knows, is history.