Elvis Presley Guitarist Dead at 84
By: Legacy Staff
2 years ago
Scotty Moore, the Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famer who performed on "Hound Dog," "Heartbreak Hotel," "Blue Suede Shoes," and dozens of other rock classics with Elvis Presley, died June 28, 2016, according to multiple news sources. He was 84.
Although no cause of death was announced, The Tennessean reported that Moore had been in poor health in recent months. He died at his longtime home in Nashville, Tennessee.
Moore was less visible than the King of Rock 'n' Roll, but he was extraordinarily influential in the music world. Keith Richards, the founding guitarist of the Rolling Stones, will eagerly testify to that.
"When I heard 'Heartbreak Hotel,' I knew what I wanted to do in life," Richards once said. "It was as plain as day. All I wanted to do in the world was to be able to play and sound like that. Everyone else wanted to be Elvis, I wanted to be Scotty."
In a post Tuesday on Instagram, Matt Ross-Spang, a Sun Studio engineer, wrote: "We lost one of the finest people I have ever met today. I was lucky to call you a friend and I'm very glad I got to see you a few days ago. The guitarist that changed the world ... especially mine; I hope you don't mind if I keep stealing your licks. Love you Scotty."
Winfield Scott Moore III was born Dec. 27, 1931, near the tiny western Tennessee town of Gadsden, population 470, according to the 2010 census. Steeped in country music – he loved the guitarist Chet Atkins – and jazz, Moore learned to play the guitar before he turned 10.
His first group was the Starlite Wranglers. But then he met Sam Phillips, the founder of the legendary Sun Studio, which would go on to record some of the era's greatest artists: Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Phillips teamed Moore, who played a number of Gibson guitars in a unique style during his career, with double bass player Bill Black to back Presley in the earliest part of his recording career.
In a 2014 interview, Moore told Guitar Player magazine how it all began.
"One day, we went to have coffee with Sam and his secretary, Marion Keisker, and she was the one who brought up Elvis. We didn't know, but Marion had a crush on Elvis, and she asked Sam if he had ever talked to that boy who had been in there.
"Sam said to Marion, 'Go back in there and get that boy's telephone number, and give it to Scotty.' Then, Sam turned to me and said, 'Why don't you listen to this boy, and see what you think.' Marion came back with a slip of paper, and it said 'Elvis Presley.' I said, 'Elvis Presley – what the hell kind of a name is that?'"
With Presley strumming rhythm guitar, the trio cut a cover of the Arthur Crudup song "That's All Right (Mama)," Presley's first single, in July 1954 at Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee. In 2010, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Presley's version No. 113 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Presley, Moore, and company would go on to record other legendary songs including "Good Rockin' Tonight," "Milk Cow Blues Boogie," "Baby Let's Play House," "Heartbreak Hotel," "Mystery Train," "Blue Suede Shoes," "Hound Dog," "Too Much," "Jailhouse Rock," and "Hard Headed Woman."
They later added drummer D. J. Fontana, went on the road, and played every small joint that offered them a stage. Presley's good looks and gyrating hips generated parental disapproval that only raised the singer's profile and made him wildly popular among hordes of teenagers.
In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Moore 29th on its roster of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2015.
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