West Tennessee Treasures - Selmer - Rockabilly Highway Murals

Laura Bannon

SELMER, Tenn. - As you drive into the city of Selmer, you are greeted by a large mural displaying an important era in the history of McNairy County.

McNairy County, Director of Nurses, Pollyanna Justice explained. "We want to be able to remember those things... not forget. The murals and the festival, our Rockabilly highways revival to relive that era and bring it back to life... and keep it in the open and to remind..."

Many years ago, McNairy County was actually the birthplace for some of the most famous Rockabilly artists in history.

"Elvis Presley was here first, for his first gig outside of Memphis. He and Carl Perkins met here for the first time," Justice said. "Jerry Lee Lewis has also performed here and also Johnny Cash..."

These men would meet in Selmer and play Rockabilly in a Ford dealership on the weekends.

In order to commemorate this history, McNairy County produced these murals to help remember this era and educate others.

"The first mural was unveiled in 2009 and it has brought our community together. It has also given our older generation an opportunity to step up and say yes, we were apart of it and say yes... we are still apart of it and be able to share that with the younger generations," said Justice.

The artist, Brian Tull is from Selmer and after years of hard work, McNairy County plans to keep these memories alive.

"It allows us to keep history alive in our county and McNairy County is well known for our Rockabilly era because of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins, and performing here in McNairy County. These murals are a part of that and all about rockabilly and it keeps history alive."


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