What’s on the cover next month?” The staff of this magazine gets asked that question all the time, and usually it’s one that we can answer in pretty straightforward fashion. Not so this month. If you’ve already glanced at the previous page, perhaps you’ve already noted that this Memphis is a little bit different, and that the actual magazine you’re holding in your hands is but one of four variations of this, our Thirty-Fifth Anniversary Issue.
To commemorate our thirty-five-year milestone, we challenged ourselves this month to produce the lengthy photo-essay that follows, one that features thirty-five individuals whose influence, we determined, was critical to the growth and evolution of our city over the period of Memphis magazine’s existence. For these four different April 2011 covers, we chose to profile four of “The Memphis Thirty Five” whose contributions we felt were especially meaningful over this period. These four different covers have been distributed randomly throughout our press run; should you wish to obtain other variations, just call us at 901-521-9000.
In making our thirty-five choices, we tried to cover the waterfront, so to speak, featuring high-achieving Memphians from all walks of life, each of whom helped make this city a different and arguably better place. Rest assured that more than a little thought went into making these choices. Indeed, the editorial staff argued and agonized for weeks on end before coming up with the final list you see presented here.
Our selections, of course, are entirely subjective, and entirely the responsibility of this magazine’s editorial staff. A key component of our lengthy deliberations was the consideration that candidates for inclusion here had to have staying power; i.e., their influence had to extend over a significant portion of the period from 1976 though 2011. We did allow a single exception to that rule — see page 63— simply because we felt that leaving the most famous Memphian alive today off this list was not an option!
The final list is by no means exclusive; many prominent figures from the past three decades are absent from these pages, perhaps undeservedly so. We look forward to hearing from our readers as regards their opinions of who should have been included here, along with their suggestions as regards individuals that might perhaps have been better left on the cutting-room floor!
Needless to say, we welcome your comments, observations, and criticisms by mail or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Meanwhile, we hope you enjoy what follows.
— Kenneth Neill
Editor’s note: We call our readers’ attention to the fact that three persons included on this list — Jack Belz, Ira Lipman, and Henry Turley — are minority stockholders in Contemporary Media, Inc., the parent company of Memphis magazine. None were involved in the preparation of this thirty-fifth anniversary feature.
Fred Smith is to Memphis what Bill Gates is to Seattle, Steve Jobs is to Silicon Valley, and the Ford family is to Detroit. The founder and CEO of FedEx is coming up on his 40th year as head of the company that employs some 30,000 Memphis-area residents and 200,000 around the world. More than one business writer has declared that Memphis is, for all intents and purposes, a FedEx company town. The brand sprawls from FedExForum downtown to Memphis International Airport (the second-busiest cargo airport in the world) to office buildings in East Memphis and Collierville. Constantly looking ahead, not back, Smith has become one of the most influential proponents of energy sources that are not dependent on foreign oil.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 2008 BY BRAD JONES
In 1976 The New York Times called William Eggleston’s exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art “perfectly banal ... perfectly boring.” But with that perfectly banal, perfectly boring show of rusty tricycles and empty fields, Eggleston didn’t just change the art of photography, he transformed the way artists frame their world. The Memphis photographer’s easy mingling of the modern and the primitive, and a well-earned reputation for hard living, have earned comparisons to William Faulkner, but ultimately his work, as showcased in international exhibitions, books, even album covers (for Big Star), may have just as much in common with Jerry Seinfeld, since both put “nothing” front and center. Word has it that a major Memphis museum dedicated to his work is on the drawing board.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 1994 BY MURRAY RISS
A high-school music teacher wrote in Kallen Esperian’s yearbook, “Let me know when you get to the Met.” Since then the stunning soprano has wowed crowds at opera houses all over the world — from Barcelona to Berlin, Memphis to Milan, and yes, at the Met — and performed with such greats as the late Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo. Her soaring voice can wring tears from a turnip and inspire awe in opera buffs. A Memphian since 1982, she holds benefits for St. Jude and takes part in many other charitable endeavors — proving she’s got a heart as big as her voice. What’s more, it’s not just opera; she can get down with the best of ’em. For proof, check out her CDs of rock and jazz classics.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 2008 COURTESY OPERA MEMPHIS
The driving force behind Huey’s, who in 1975 started work at the original midtown location, Thomas Boggs expanded the popular eatery into a chain of seven, and groomed his daughters to run the business. But Boggs — who gained rock-star fame in the 1960s as a drummer for Alex Chilton’s Box Tops — was also known for his generous spirit and megawatt smile, giving untold hours to local nonprofits, including the Memphis Zoological Society and Memphis in May, and to people in need. A pillar of the Memphis Restaurant Association and a partner in other dining establishments, the entrepreneur gave a hand up to struggling colleagues. We lost him too soon, at age 63 in 2008, but his restaurant legacy lives on.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 1990 BY KAREN STUTHARD
Whatever you may think of him, most Memphians acknowledge that Willie Herenton is arguably the most influential Memphian of the past three decades. He stepped into the public spotlight in 1981, when he became superintendent of the Memphis City Schools, a position he held for 12 years. In 1993, he made history as the first African American elected mayor of Memphis, winning re-election four more times after that, before abruptly resigning in July 2009. That’s 28 years in the spotlight, a role he clearly loved. His final political campaign, against incumbent congressman Steve Cohen in 2010, ended in defeat, but Herenton remained unbowed and defiant. Does the former Golden Gloves boxer have another round or two left in him? Only time will tell.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 2010 BY BRANDON DILL
With a life well-lived, some developers leave behind a footprint on their community. Behind Henry Turley will be an entire Memphis landscape. Turley’s brilliance was in recognizing — and, importantly, acting upon — what now seems obvious: The most valuable real estate in the world is next to water. With downtown Memphis perched alongside the mightiest stream in North America, a breathtaking neighborhood (or two) awaited birth. Stroll through Harbor Town or South Bluffs today, and you’d think the mighty homes and river views have been there a century when, in fact, most are barely 20 years old, the realization of Turley’s vision for making downtown more than a business center. If downtown is the face of Memphis, Henry Turley is the face of downtown.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 2011 BY BRANDON DILL
William B. “Billy” Dunavant took the cotton business from Memphis to the world. Three decades before “the world is flat” became a cliché, Dunavant saw that the cotton business was global, not regional, and that the future was not the American South but China. Declaring that Front Street and its venerable Cotton Exchange were for old men gossiping and playing dominos, Dunavant moved his operations to a warehouse east of Memphis International Airport in the early 1970s and never looked back. History would prove him right, and downtown Memphis would never be the same. A fiercely competitive sportsman, Dunavant would also leave his mark on Memphis as founder of The Racquet Club, owner of a now-defunct professional football team, patron of Ducks Unlimited, and philanthropist.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 2008 BY MURRAY RISS
Nobody in America knows brand management like John Malmo. The elder statesman of Memphis marketing and advertising, he’s been a bit of a Mad Man for the better part of half a century. In 1967 he founded John Malmo Advertising and grew it into the largest firm in the Mid-South. In 1991 he sold to Ward Archer & Associates, creating a juggernaut local agency, archer>malmo. When it comes to a business model, brand, slogan, or logo, you can be sure the iconoclast has an opinion and is happy to share it. Author of the business book When on the Mountain There Is No Tiger, Monkey Is King, he has penned hundreds of newspaper and magazine columns (including a regular stint in the pages of MBQ) and delivers regular commentaries on WKNO radio.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 2011 BY JOHN MARKHAM
He got what he got the hard way. And he’s made it better each and every day. Those lyrics from “Soul Man” sum up the remarkable career of songwriter/producer/performer David Porter, surely the greatest living Stax icon who still calls Memphis home. With late partner Isaac Hayes, he formed one of the most revered songwriting teams in music history (penning “Soul Man” and “Hold On, I’m Comin’,” among others). He’s supplied the hip-hop generation with a wealth of material and made a mint off the royalties. And he’s emerged post-Stax as both an immensely successful businessman outside the music world and local ambassador/elder statesman, visible from the Grammy Awards gatherings to Grizzlies games.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 2009 BY JUSTIN FOX BURKS
Dorothy Gunther Pugh
Not only is she an accomplished dancer, classically trained in New York and London, and a member of the Royal Society of Arts and Sciences, Dorothy Gunther Pugh is also one of only a handful of female artistic directors in the country. As the founding artistic director and CEO of Ballet Memphis, Pugh has vaulted Memphis to the top of the national ballet scene. In a recent interview on PBS NewsHour, Pugh discussed her unique role as a female artistic director: “I did it in my community. I didn’t go where I had a professional job offer in Pittsburgh. To this day now, I think I knew that I had something to say and I had to lead and I had to do it my way.”
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 1989 BY ALAN ULMER
When he passed away in 2009, this underground godfather of modern Memphis music was the scene’s most colorful commentator. With roots that reached back to jug bands and Sun Records, Dickinson came of age in the garage-rock and folk-revival ’60s, presided over the birth of alternative music with Alex Chilton in the ’70s, hung with Dylan and the Stones, did major work in the generally fallow ’80s, and sired a promising new generation of Memphis music both in his family (sons Luther and Cody, of the North Mississippi Allstars) and in his home studio (Lucero, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Amy LaVere). He also found the time to make some pretty fine records on his own. Dickinson contained multitudes. And he could tell you all about it.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 2000 BY STEVE DAVIS
J.R. “Pitt” Hyde
Entrepreneurship was a biological imperative to Pitt Hyde. He grew up watching his grandfather and father turn Malone & Hyde into one of the country’s largest food wholesalers. “They took risks that many people considered unwise — and succeeded, despite the odds,” Hyde says. “I believe my exposure to this type of ‘pioneering’ mindset … gave me the drive to try new, unproven ventures.” These ventures include being the founder of autoparts giant AutoZone, chair of biopharmaceutical startup GTx Inc., co-founder of the private equity firm MB Ventures, the impetus (along with his wife, Barbara) behind the $69 million Hyde Family Foundation, and scion of several other highly placed and deep-pocketed endeavors rooted in Memphis — most notably the National Civil Rights Museum and Ballet Memphis.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 2011 BY BRANDON DILL
A funny thing keeps happening to Deanie Parker on the way to her retirement party: She never gets there. Perhaps best known as the publicity director for Stax Records in the 1960s and 1970s and one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Stax Museum and Stax Music Academy, Parker has retired twice as CEO but remains an active board member. Having also helped shape Memphis in May and communications at The Regional Medical Center, her post-Stax Museum life finds her behind the scenes again, both as producer and theme songwriter for the Emmy Award-winning documentary “I AM A MAN” about the 1968 sanitation worker strikers. The film is a project of the Memphis Tourism Education Foundation, which Parker took over as chair in 2010 on her way to that retirement party again.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 2010 BY RONNIE BOOZE
To understand the impact John Elkington has had on downtown Memphis, consider Beale Street before he began to manage it in 1983: blocks of abandoned and boarded-up buildings, and trash littering otherwise empty streets. But, as the developer and manager of modern Beale Street, Elkington — formerly a partner in the local real-estate firm of Elkington-Keltner — transformed it into Memphis’ premier entertainment district and one of the top tourist destinations anywhere. The relationship between Elkington and city government ended in 2010. Following the announcement, Memphis mayor A C Wharton said, “Pioneers always get bloodied. [Elkington] went in when others did not go in, and this community owes him a debt of gratitude.” We agree.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 2008 BY JUSTIN FOX BURKS
During his 85 years of life, the late great judge, lawyer, and Baptist minister blazed trails for minorities when he became the first African American appointed to the criminal court bench in Tennessee and the first named to the five-member Federal Communications Commission. Hooks, who died in 2010, also steered the national NAACP during the Reagan and Bush eras, when conservative backlash posed setbacks to gains in civil rights, all the while maintaining a ministry in Memphis. As a boy, he was gripped by a fear of public speaking. Yet he became an orator extraordinaire, moving landmark legislation through the courts and firing up hearts from the pulpit. A local and national icon, Hooks in 2007 received our country’s highest award, the Presidential Medal of Honor.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 1982 BY LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
For more than two decades, Erling Jensen’s remarkable culinary talent has set the benchmark for fine dining in Memphis. A native of Denmark, Jensen honed his classical training in Washington, D.C., and Miami before moving to Memphis as the chef at La Tourelle. In 1996, he opened Erling Jensen in East Memphis, blending global influences with Continental cuisine to create such exceptional dishes as Atlantic salmon served over creamy roasted garlic and wild mushroom spatzle. Recognized locally with numerous awards, including many “Best Memphis Chef” honors from this magazine, Jensen has received national acclaim, including two invitations to cook at the James Beard House in New York City.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 1999 BY BEN FINK
Gayle S. Rose
We’ll bet that no other University of Northern Iowa music student has ever been named by Business Tennessee magazine one of our state’s “100 Most Powerful People.” But then Gayle Rose isn’t like most people. After earning degrees in music and business from UNI, the accomplished clarinetist graduated from Harvard with a master’s in public administration. Ever heard of Deepak Chopra? Well, that’s because Rose spearheaded the self-help guru’s international publishing and TV ventures. Respected as a behind-the-scenes activitist, Rose co-founded 10,000 Women for Herenton (later 10,000 Women for Change), co-founded the Women’s Foundation, founded the Rose Family Foundation, became president of the data storage/retrieval firm EVS, and earned the national “Changing the Face of Philanthropy Award.” Recently she formed Max’s Team, a volunteer organization that honors the memory of her late son.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 2011 BY MARIA BENTON
Himself the son of a private investigator, Ira Lipman is the founder and chairman of Guardsmark, one of the nation’s largest and most successful security-services companies. His Memphis-based firm — “The Tiffany’s of the security business,” as one reporter described the company — operates in 400 cities worldwide and has over 19,000 employees. A long-time civil rights advocate, Lipman is Honorary Life Chairman of the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ). While a student at Little Rock Central High School in 1957, he met NBC anchor John Chancellor; their long friendship led to his sponsorship since 1995 of the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism, presented annually by Columbia University.
PHOTOGRAPHED BY CHIP PANKEY
Now that you-know-who has left the building, Timberlake is probably the most famous person from Memphis living today — it’s that simple. After making a name for himself in the immensely popular boy band ‘N Sync, Timberlake has embarked on a fabulously successful career as a musician and actor — most recently in the Oscar-nominated film, The Social Network. A pop culture icon, Timberlake gained a new measure of fame (and infamy) after his 2004 Super Bowl performance with Janet Jackson gave rise to the euphemism “wardrobe malfunction.” Never losing sight of his hometown, Timberlake released a line of tequila named 901, opened the Mirimichi Golf Course in Millington, and recently received a humanitarian award from the Grammy Association for his charitable endeavors in Tennessee.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 2010 BY MONKABANG — COURTESY DREAMSTIME
A C Wharton
Growing up in Lebanon, Tennessee, listening to country music on the radio, and going on to both study and teach at the Ole Miss law school: That’s the unusual career path followed by Memphis’ current mayor, who looks to be able to hold the job as long as he wants to. Wharton’s GQ wardrobe and sunny disposition hide an earthy, hard-nosed character, and, as he faced re-election to his first full four-year term in 2011, the former longtime public defender (who doubled as a name-brand attorney in private practice) looked as in-control and invincible as any local chief executive ever has.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 2011 BY BRANDON DILL
The biopic starts something like this: “Pssst! You see that guy over there with the broom? They say he used to be a champion tap dancer and that he raised $12.5 million to build a new theater in the middle of a massive economic collapse.” That’s the real-life story of Jackie Nichols, Playhouse on the Square’s founder and executive producer, who does whatever it takes to revitalize Overton Square and expand his improbably successful theatrical empire. When he’s not advocating smart growth in Midtown or working to secure the 41-year-old theater company’s endowment, he’s perfectly happy to putter around his sprawling, beautifully imagined facility — sweeping up messes, painting things, and taking out the trash.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 2010 BY JUSTIN FOX BURKS
A native of Missouri who started out with little interest in either rock-and-roll or Elvis Presley, that genre’s avatar, this deceptively mild-mannered investment counselor was curious enough to accept an interview request in late 1981 from the late icon’s ex-wife, Priscilla Presley, and shrewd enough to come aboard as the director of what became Elvis Presley Enterprises. An early act was to open the King’s mansion to the public as a tourist attraction. Granted, the legions of Elvis faithful were a ready-made audience, but new fans kept coming throughout the next few decades as Soden made Graceland the second-most-visited residence in the world and developed new commercial possibilities, both locally and elsewhere. Though entrepreneur Robert F.X. Sillerman has snapped up 85 percent of the empire, Soden still manages the remainder for Priscilla and Lisa Marie.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 2011 BY ROBERT DYE ©Elvis Presley Enterprises
When Ken Burns named Shelby Foote one of the narrators of his 1990 PBS series on the Civil War, the acclaimed historian mesmerized viewers, by making them believe that — somehow — he had actually been there. Foote attended Sewanee and the University of North Carolina, but called Memphis home for the last 40 years of his life. While living here in the old Fort Pickering neighborhood overlooking the Mississippi, Foote wrote several acclaimed novels, among them Shiloh and September, September. But in the mid-1950s, he took an old-style ink pen and — 20 years and 1.5 million words later — produced the three-volume The Civil War: A Narrative, which is, and will probably forever be, the definitive account of the War Between the States.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 1981 BY ALAN ULMER
As a seminary student at Yale Divinity School, Dr. Scott Morris picked up a pamphlet on how to start a health clinic. Today he runs the clinic he founded in 1987 — the Church Health Center, now the largest of its kind in the nation — and has helped other cities replicate his cutting-edge concept. The family practitioner and Methodist minister seeks and receives financial support from churches and healthcare volunteers to serve working uninsured people and their families — some 70,000 in the past year. Described by friends as passionate, remarkable, and tirelessly committed, Morris has also authored books and writes a column for The Commercial Appeal. His words reveal not only his knowledge but his love and respect for the individuals he’s called to serve.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 1997 BY CLAY TOMAS
Being named “Miss McKellar Lake” was only the first of this high-energy Memphian’s many accomplishments. A native of Selmer, Tennessee, she almost singlehandedly created the Blues Ball, Nutcracker Ball, and Jingle Bell Ball fund-raisers. She organized downtown street festivals to celebrate the lighting of the Hernando DeSoto Bridge and The Pyramid. With her keen eye for fashion and a knack for business, she designed stunning gowns and dresses that soon appeared in the display windows of New York’s toniest stores, and her antique-lace creations even caught the eye of England’s royal family, with the late Princess Diana being one of her most famous (among many) customers. Since 1980, she has been chairman/CEO of the event-planning firm Celebrations, Inc.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 1992 BY LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
Without Jack Belz’s vision, Memphis’ downtown renaissance might never have happened. Scion of the city’s most prominent commercial real-estate family, he made the fateful decision in 1975 to purchase an abandoned hotel no one else wanted for $400,000. Tens of millions of investment dollars later, The Peabody was reborn in 1981 to become Memphis’ signature landmark, the societal heart of our city, and the very first building block of the redevelopment that followed. Other Peabodys flourish now in Little Rock and Orlando, but there’s no place like home for the Belz family, which continues to play a leading role in Memphis’ infrastructure transformation.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 2011 COURTESY BELZ ENTERPRISES
Arguably the city’s most important musical artist between Elvis Presley and Justin Timberlake, Green was the last true Southern soul star of the ’70s and a singular force, applying his idiosyncratically beautiful voice — which ranges from cute to carnal, grit to glory — to classic hits such as “Let’s Stay Together” and “Take Me to the River.” Green famously left pop for the pulpit, but never quite stopped recording or performing. And he’s re-emerged in a major way over the past decade, releasing three fine secular albums, two with late Memphis producer and mentor Willie Mitchell, and one with hip-hop star Amir “Questlove” Thompson of the Roots. All the while, he still finds time to preach on Sundays, too, in his Full Gospel Tabernacle in Whitehaven.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 1993 BY STEVE ROBERTS
Harold Ford Sr.
Former mayor E.H. Crump is usually considered the “Boss” of Memphis politics, but Harold Ford Sr. — a graduate of LeMoyne-Owen College and son of an inner-city funeral director — grew to become the same kind of boss with the same kind of style. With his precinct-by-precinct power and the extension of his family’s influence throughout all of Memphis officialdom, he wielded influence far beyond the positions he held — first as a state legislator, then as the Ninth District congressman for 22 years. After bequeathing his congressional seat in 1996 to son Harold Jr. (who kept it until a failed U.S. Senate bid ten years later), the patriarch of the Ford political line retired to Florida, where he still resides, a high-powered lobbyist with a reach all the way to Washington.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 1981 BY ALAN ULMER
Karen Blockman Carrier
After a short stint as an art teacher, Karen Blockman Carrier charted a culinary course, and the city’s dining scene is all the richer for it. A graduate of White Station High School, she made her way to New York and learned the ropes of the restaurant biz. Drawn back to her hometown in 1987, she launched the catering firm Another Roadside Attraction and a host of hip restaurants — Automatic Slim’s, Cielo, Beauty Shop, Dö, Mollie Fontaine Lounge — garnering kudos from the likes of Bon Appetit and Gourmet. Looking back on her career, she told a reporter, “I knew I wanted to rock this town because Memphis is cool. And for me, it’s been phenomenal.”
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 2011BY JONATHAN POSTAL
Memphis was an island in the financial world when Allen Morgan Jr. cofounded the Morgan Keegan investment firm in 1969. This city had no investment banking firms, no local brokerage firms, and no big insurance companies. Morgan and his partners bought into Memphis when its stock was low, raising their profile and purchasing a seat on the New York Stock Exchange for $150,000 in 1970. Four years later, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell to 577. Morgan remained bullish on stocks and Memphis. Their vision was rewarded. In 2000, Morgan Keegan was purchased by Regions Bank for $789 million.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 2009 COURTESY MORGAN KEEGAN & CO.
Elected to the Tennessee State Senate in 1982, Steve Cohen wandered into progressive politics as a gadfly, and spent the next two decades on the wrong side of more 32-1 votes than he could count. But his perseverance paid dividends in 2003, when his state lottery program, designed to provide college scholarships for Tennessee students, became law. Since then, tens of thousands have gone to college, quite literally, on Steve Cohen’s nickel. When Harold Ford Jr. mounted an unsuccessful campaign for the Senate in 2006, Cohen won election to the vacant Ninth District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the first Jewish congressman ever elected in the state. And he’s still a Memphis gadfly of the first order.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 2011 BY LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
Threats, curses, outrage, scorn — she shrugged them off and stared the haters down. Marches, sit-ins, demonstrations, boycotts — she used them to topple racial walls. “Mad as hell” when then-Memphis State College denied her admission because of race, Maxine Smith earned degrees from Spelman and Middlebury. In 1962, she seized the gauntlet and for the next 33 years led the NAACP through an era of staggering social change. Despised for decades by defenders of the status quo, Smith stayed the course and opened doors for countless African Americans. Today she’s more likely to receive laurels, including a Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum and an honorary doctor of letters from the University of Memphis, the institution that rejected her more than half a century ago.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 1980 BY LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
Nobody sells the sizzle like Orpheum CEO Pat Halloran, this city’s own version of a Broadway impressario. The former city council member deserves applause for his efforts to convert the old Malco Theatre into one of our city’s premier performing-arts venues. And when Halloran asked investors to consider a little-known rock-and-soul musical called Memphis, he didn’t blather about art enriching the soul. “The people who invested in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musicals are all driving Maseratis today,” he said, grinning like he was already sitting behind the wheel. Regardless of what he’s driving, Halloran takes a victory lap in October when the first national tour of Memphis, the 2010 Tony Award winner for best musical, makes its namesake city the first stop on its national tour.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 2011 BY LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
We know his face almost as well as our own. For nearly 35 years as chief weathercaster for WMC-TV, Dave Brown has informed us, worried us, calmed us, and yeah, at times, exasperated us when his forecast missed the mark. But that affable smile and straight-on delivery keep pulling viewers in. And when he lost a daughter and grandchild to a drunk driver, we felt the weight of his sorrow. He’s talked us through floods, droughts, icy assaults, brutal tornadoes, and a straight-line wind disaster that paralyzed the city. He’s been our port in every storm. If you can’t trust Brother Dave, who can you trust?
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 2011 COURTESY WMC-TV
He was the star of the 1973 Memphis State Tigers, a team that fell one Bill Walton short of a national championship. His number 21 was the first to be retired by the city’s flagship team of choice. For a generation of Memphis basketball fans, he later became Coach Finch, not just the face of Tiger Nation, but its voice, its soul, its character. He won 220 games over 11 years (1986-97), and helped fellow Memphians like Elliot Perry, Penny Hardaway, and Lorenzen Wright achieve stardom well beyond the city limits. But here in Memphis, the legacy is clear: Basketball is Larry Finch, and Larry Finch is basketball.
PHOTOGRAPHED IN 1986 BY LARRY KUZNIEWSKI