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West Memphis looks to showcase its musical heritage with blues depot

Published: Sep. 5, 2021 at 2:46 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - What do Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and B.B. King all have in common?

In addition to being music legends from the Mid-South, they each owe part of their early success to West Memphis.

They were among the artists who got their first radio exposure on KWEM in West Memphis back in the 1940s and 1950s.

“I was told a saying that the Blues may have started in Memphis, but it got knocked up in West Memphis,” West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon said.

McClendon now wants to share his city’s rich music history with others.

That history would be showcased as part of the West Memphis looks to showcase its musical heritage with blues depot.

It would include space for live entertainment, food trucks and digital billboards that would tell the history of music in West Memphis.

McClendon, who has made revitalizing West Memphis one of his main priorities as mayor, said the music and blues depot would be built on the site of an old train depot on Broadway.

“The reason why this area was so unique is because it’s right beside our train station and we know that most business is not going to come in and build a business right beside a train station,” McClendon said. “We got clear land now and this gave us a perfect opportunity to be able to expose the one thing that we haven’t to this point been able to take advantage of and that’s our music history.”

McClendon says the city is working with private businesses to make the West Memphis Music and Blues Depot a reality. He says it will happen soon.

McClendon hopes to start pouring concrete by the end of the month.

“It’s going to be an area where people are going to be able to come in from our city and around the country, just to learn about the rich musical heritage that we have here in West Memphis,” said McClendon.

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