of "Red Hot and Blue"
WGA # 1105426
Michael William Freeman
Robert Patrick Freeman
494 Garland Street
Memphis, TN 38104
Dewey Phillips loved music, especially rhythm and blues. He wanted to sing for a living; instead he
broad casted the music he loved to his radio audience. WHBQ Radio in Memphis, Tennessee created the
show Red Hot and Blue to reach the black audience because no one else was listening to their programs.
Even though he could not enunciate properly, read copy well, or cue a record without scratching it,
Dewey was perfect for the job. And to him, Red Hot and Blue was more than the perfect job; it became
his life. He had an uncanny knack for guessing which songs would become hits. He had the knack, also,
to say the most foolish things on the air. He captured the black audience for his station, and much more.
A large, restless audience of white teenagers loved what Dewey played and hung on his every silly
word. Without realizing it Dewey was helping to create a new phenomenon, rock and roll. One of Dewey’
s white listeners would record rhythm and blues songs in a Memphis studio, and with Dewey’s help,
launch his career. His name was Elvis Presley.
In the story of rock and roll, and of the cultural change of the 1950’s; Dewey Phillips is the unsung hero.
His story is a “rags to riches” story. He scratched his way into his dream job at the same time a vast,
young audience was searching for new entertainment and a new identity. But he would enjoy success
for only a few years. By the end of the 50’s, the entertainment business was changing again, and
Dewey would not be able to cope. He was then becoming one of the first casualties of drug addiction in
the rock and roll era. So many of the music personalities from Memphis of that time would achieve
greater, lasting fame than Dewey Phillips. Yet, all owe a debt to him for relentlessly promoting their
creative work on his popular radio show. Dewey was more than an observer of cultural history, more
than an on-air “Forrest Gump;” he was a vital participant.
Dewey was also, as his biographer Louis Cantor, playfully showed, a filmmaker’s dream. Boyish, manic
and never quiet; Dewey created chaos wherever he was. Friends and family overlooked his faults and
treasured his good humor and kindness. Our story begins when he begins his career, and it ends just
beyond his peak. A note about language: Dewey and his friends in the music business did not speak
proper English. In our script we try to capture both the slang, and the Southern accent.