Elvis’ Favourite Guitarist, Scotty Moore, Dead at 84

All eyes were on Elvis when he exploded into public consciousness in the middle 50s. He had the sound, the look and the moves. But there was more to Elvis than just, well, Elvis. He had a crack backing band that brought everything to life.

Heading up that group was Scotty Moore. He was lured away from a country group called the Starlite Wranglers by Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records. “I got this kid,” said Phillips,”and I ain’t never heard anything like him. Can you audition him for me?”

On July 4, 1954, that kid dropped into Scotty’s house to jam. The verdict was “He’s okay and seems like a nice young man. Let’s give him a shot.” The next night, Elvis, Scott and Starlite Wranglers’ bass player Bill Black, recorded a version of Arthur Crudup’s “That’s All Right.” When the song made it to local radio, it blew up. Elvis had arrived.

Moore stayed with Elvis for years, providing a twangy rockabilly sound and attitude to Elvis’ sound. (Bill Black played bass and DJ Fontana was added on drums.) It’s that group who can be heard on “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Hound Dog,” “Don’t Be Cruel” and many others. His blues/country/rockabilly style phrasing was brand new, a revelation to guitarists everywhere. In the process, Moore inspired a series of wannabe guitarists: Keith Richards, George Harrison, Mark Knopfler, Jeff Beck, Chris Issak.

Scotty Moore died this week in his home outside of Nashville. He was 84.

More at the New York Times.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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