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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Walking in Memphis: Beale Street's Brass Note Walk of Fame

Ever find yourself walking Beale Street and wonder about all the names engraved in brass music notes along the sidewalks? Wonder no more, as a free tour will be offered Feb. 13 by Jimmy Ogle, billed as Memphis’ mobile historian.

The Beale Street Brass Note Walk of Fame guided tour will begin at 1 p.m. inside the Historic Daisy Theater (across from the theater where many live acts continue to perform) at 329 Beale St.

There are plenty of obvious names: Elvis Presley, Sam Phillips, Jerry Lee Lewis, Isaac Hayes, Johnny Cash, Al Green, Otis Redding; the list of recognized names that influenced American music goes on and on.

There are – at least to some people – what would be called lesser names that have played important roles in their own right on the Memphis music scene: Jerry Wexler, Justin Timberlake, Little Milton, Memphis Slim, The Blues Brothers, Sam & Dave, Willie Mitchell, Three 6 Mafia, and, well, this list goes on and on as well.

Ken Hall, Beale Street marketing director for Performa Entertainment Real Estate (the firm that manages the Beale Street Entertainment District), provided some history of the brass note walk.

“The brass note walk was begun in 1986 by John Elkington of Performa Entertainment Real Estate as a means of tying the rich musical history of Beale Street together with its future as an entertainment district. Since 1986, over 90 honorees has been selected of which 82 currently have note display in the sidewalks between Second and Fourth. Three more are in various stages of completion and the remaining six still await financial sponsorship for creation.

“The notes combine two arts: the musical legacy of the honoree with the metallurgy of the Lugar Foundry in Eads, Tenn., which casts the brass notes. The notes are then engraved and laid in concrete on the north side and south sidewalks along Beale Street. Rising metal costs over the past couple of years have pushed the costs up to $1,700 per note form casting to concrete.”

If you find yourself in Memphis Feb. 13 take some time out to enjoy this tour. It is expected to last about an hour.

For more information, call 901-526-0115. For a full list of brass note honorees, go to  

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