After three years of gathering signatures and testimonials with the ultimate goal of getting Sam Phillips' likeness on a U.S. postage stamp, Liz Scott is ready to take her effort to another level. Scott is president of a local Elvis Presley fan club, Alabama Fans TCB for Elvis, and the coordinator of the Sam Phillips Commemorative U.S. Postage Stamp Campaign.
Phillips, a Florence native known as "the father of rock 'n' roll," died July 30, 2003, at the age of 80. Phillips was born in Florence and at the age of 28 moved to Memphis, Tenn., and formed a musical legacy that shows no sign of disappearing.
He founded Sun Records in Memphis and launched the careers of rock 'n' roll pioneers such as Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Sonny Burgess, Johnny Cash and Charlie Rich. He was also instrumental in promoting blues artists such as B.B. King and Howlin' Wolf, not to mention country legend Conway Twitty.
"The campaign has been running for three years now and it's time to move on to the next level: Congress," Scott said. She said the paper and online petitions will remain active until Dec. 31.
"I just want to give people one more chance to get their signature on the petition," Scott said."I could keep doing this for another year, getting the signatures, but that's not going to get us a stamp." The campaign has gathered more than 10,000 signatures, including 1,403 that were placed on a Web site dedicated to the postage stamp effort, Scott said. The response from the fans worldwide has been amazing and it has been a lot of fun getting to know some of them," Scott said. Former Florence councilwoman Angie Pickens has been helping Scott get petitions into people's hands and encouraged city officials to support Scott's effort.
"The stamp is important to the heritage of Florence and Sam Phillips' roots," Pickens said. "What better way to commemorate his life and accomplishments than with a stamp?"
Kelvin Holly, a guitarist for the local rhythm and blues band The Decoys and rock legend Little Richard's touring band, called Phillips an innovator akin to Albert Einstein or Thomas Edison. "He gave us the first rock star, really," Holly said. "There might not have been a Beatles or a (Jimi) Hendrix if it hadn't been for Sam Phillips. He really is the father of rock 'n' roll. Sam was the real deal."
Scott said she wants to end the petition drive so she can put together a final count of the names and focus on the trip to Washington, D.C., to speak to Congress.
"We need the U.S. Congress on our side; that's very important," Scott said. "Congress tells the U.S. Postal Service if a stamp is approved or denied. This is our chance to be heard."
Scott said if the request is denied, any subsequent effort would have to begin from scratch, including the gathering of signatures.
The online petition is available at gopetition.com or myspace.com/samphillipsstampusa.