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WEDNESDAY

On a trip to Memphis, I had taken the Graceland tour, driven around the guts of the city, and washed everything down at Denny’s. But before I left, I had to stop at Sun Studios. It took us a while to find the place. It’s on a corner across the street from an auto-body shop. No blue-ribbon entrance, just a glass door set against a rotting wood frame. We couldn’t go in—they give tours during only part of the day. But being there was enough. I ripped a nail out of the door frame and left. I still have that piece of Sun Studios. Maybe that nail gave witness to the birth of rock ‘n’ roll—and saw Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley lay down some tracks. Of course, there were musicians who never made it beyond Sam Phillips’ studio. One of those is a rockabilly cat named Billy Lee Riley, who got himself one big hit—”Flying Saucer Rock and Roll”—and then vanished into relative obscurity. Find out what really went on inside the Sun when Riley and author Pete Daniel talk about the famed studio at noon at the National Museum of American History’s Carmichael Auditorium, 14th and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 357-3129. (Jason Cherkis)