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A Visit to the International Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame


A Visit to the International Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame

Anthony Merriweather


On a fall afternoon I decided to diagnose my boredom with little good, ole fashioned exploring around the heart of Jackson, Tennessee. Equipped with my camera, I ventured downtown searching aimlessly for anything out of the ordinary to grasp my attention. Having already spent a majority of my time in this part of town, I desperately needed to be more creative with finding a hidden gem. After countless hours of wandering, trespassing, and jaywalking, I was on the brink of defeat. I found myself once more around familiar surroundings.

Suddenly I was face-to-face with an elaborate mural stained with the faces and names of Rock-A-Billy royalty, which seemed to always be in sight whenever I found myself downtown. Of course I had heard of the majority of the names and listened to snippets of their music, while some I had never discovered, but I didn’t feel educated enough as I felt I should be. I glanced over at the entrance of the Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame and locked in on the "open" sign. I peered into the tinted glass door to catch of glimpse of what it might behold but didn’t see much of a commotion. I gathered myself and creeped into the old building.

As I crept in I began to take note of the walls that were filled on every square inch with memorabilia and signatures of all the visitors that have come from far and wide. Nearly all the blurbs on the wall thanked “Henry” for the tour, several of those coming from visitors from overseas.

As I become more and more indulged in the nostalgia of the rooms, an elderly man in the room adjacent was assisting an older tourist couple on a set of drums. He was informing them that the drum set and a guitar fixated in front of it were donated by very close quarters of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. In the midst of the story he spotted me and insisted that I join the group mid-tour. I wasn’t planning to stay for a tour, but (me being the very impulsive human being I am) it kind of just happened.

Instantaneously I was transported into another dimension that I would have never been the slightest bit interested in two years ago. Our tour guide, Henry Harrison, shared with us captivating personal stories and facts that I never knew, and I was simply astonished. Having the opportunity to connect with someone that actually met, grew up around, and/or knew these music legends such as Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins was eye-opening. Being gifted this sort of information in itself is valuable, but it being given by someone with just as much history as these legends is priceless.

From the short amount of time that I spent with Henry Harrison, it was apparent that this is a man with an enormous amount of character and charm. He seamlessly spouts off these stories and memories, which is not surprising with the amount of time he’s had to repeatedly tell them over the years. It must be nice living in the glory days everyday, right? I’ll leave that for you to decide. 

Make your way down to the International Rock-a Billy Hall of Fame to find out what you’re missing! Visit their website to learn more.

Anthony Merriweather is a Communications major at Jackson State Community College and writes primarily for his personal blog tU90. He aspires to be a full-time journalist.

Photography by Anthony Merriweather.