From: 50th Anniversary Of Rock & Roll Issue, August 2004
by Phil Arnold
Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, and the Jordanaires are the headliners at Darwin Lamm’s “The Legends” Salute the 50th Anniversary of Rock & Roll in Memphis this year. But you will see many other musicians and singers on stage, rounding out the band and belting out the lead vocals. All of them have a history with Elvis, a musical connection we draw on for this spectacular show.
Just about every artist on the stage at the Legends Salute has recorded with Scotty, DJ and the Jordanaires numerous times. This show will be like a reunion of sorts for a group of veteran musicians who have known each other for 30-40 years. When all these musical buddies assemble in Memphis in August, it won’t take a great deal of rehearsal time for them to get back into the old groove. Scotty and DJ will have a very tight band that night.
BOB MOORE (Standup Bass): No relation to Scotty, Bob Moore followed Bill Black as the bass player in the band behind Elvis for 28 recording sessions from 1958 to 1966. He played bass on such hits as: “A Big Hunk of Love,” “I Got Stung,” “A Fool Such As I.” “Stuck On You,” “A Mess Of The Blues,” “It’s Now Or Never,” “Are You Lonesome tonight?” and many, many more. Bob Moore is the quintessential Nashville session man, and has played bass in over 17,000 recording sessions. The list of singers he backed would go on for several pages, but some notables include Patsy Cline, Brenda Lee, Bobby Darin, Connie Francis, Roger Miller, Jim Reeves, Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Reba McEntire, Don McLean, and Debbie Boone. It has been noted that his dependability, his rock solid beat, his impeccable timing, and his ability to work well with other musicians were the keys to his success in a recording studio. Bob Moore’s web-site claims he may well have played on more recordings than any other musician in the world, and that he could be the greatest all around bassist that has ever lived.
BUDDY HARMAN (Drums): You will notice the Legends Salute has two drummers. Second drummer duties will be performed admirably by Buddy Harmon, another famed studio musician, with almost as many recording sessions to his credit as Bob Moore. Buddy Harman played on most Elvis recording sessions from 1958 to 1968. Nine soundtrack albums from Elvis’ movies feature Buddy Harmon’s drumming. His career also includes drum work with the Everly Brothers, Johnny Burnette, Patti Page, Loretta Lynn, Roy Orbison, Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, Barbara Mandrell, Simon and Garfunkel, Ann Margaret, Ringo Starr, and dozens more. Buddy Harman has had two terms as house drummer for the Grand Ole Opry, and he was awarded ”Drummer of the Year” in 1981 by the Academy of Country Music. He had the privilege of performing for four American presidents: John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Regan. Buddy Harman can be especially proud of being named by the Country Music Hall of Fame as one of a handful of top musicians recognized for creating the “Nashville Sound.”
BOOTS RANDOLPH (Sax): Another member of the band was among the pioneering creators of the ‘Nashville Sound,’ and he has reached “legend” status on his own. Boots Randolph has been a star ever since he recorded “Yakety Sax” in the early 60’s. Several other hits followed, as did more than 40 albums. In addition to recording and performing, Boots has been a much-sought-after session musician. He was the first sax player to play on Elvis recordings, and the only one to have a sax solo in an Elvis song, in the superb blues number, “Reconsider Baby.” Boots Randolph contributed to the soundtrack music for eight Elvis movies. He has played with Chet Atkins, Buddy Holly, Alabama, Al Hirt, Johnny Cash, Pete Fountain, and Doc Severinsen. He has appeared on numerous network TV shows, like those of Ed Sullivan, Mike Douglas, Johnny Carson and Jimmy Dean. More recently, Boots has been a frequent guest on TNN’s “Music City Tonight” and “Prime Time Country.”
MILLIE KIRKHAM (Vocalist): The Jordanaires and Millie Kirkham have recorded and performed together so much that, to many fans, Millie seems like the female member of the vocal group. Millie was with the Jordanaires during her first Elvis recording session in September, 1957. She last backed Elvis at a session in June of 1971. In between her strong, clear soprano voice was recorded on dozens of Elvis’ songs including: “Don’t,” “Blue Christmas,” “How Great Thou Art,” “Guitar Man,” “Surrender,” and ”Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Millie Kirkham also appeared on stage with Elvis in Las Vegas. As a fixture in the Nashville recording scene for decades, she has appeared on record with a galaxy of stars including: Jerry Lee Lewis, Bob Dylan, Carl Perkins, Brook Benton, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, and Eddy Arnold.
BILLY SWAN (Vocalist): You will see a number of men playing guitar during the Legends Salute, and one of them, Billy Swan, will step to the mike to take over lead vocal duty for a part of the night. He’s had lots of practice singing Elvis songs, having released a CD of them titled “Like Elvis Used To Do.” Billy Swan had a two-million seller hit in 1974 called “Let Me Help,” which Elvis later recorded. Billy Swan has been through just about every area of the music business. In addition to his own singing, he has written songs covered by Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, and many more. Indeed, Swan wrote the Clyde McPhatter hit “Lover Please” when he was just 16 years old. He produced three albums including Tony Joe White’s “Polk Salad Annie.” He was tour manager for Mel Tillis, Chet Atkins, Boots Randolph, and Floyd Cramer. Billy Swan even appeared in two movies and served as Assistant Musical Director on “Great balls Of Fire.” Over the past decade, he has released a dozen CD’s, including “The Sun Studio Story.”
EDDIE MILES (Vocalist): Only one Elvis tribute artist will be presented at the Legends Salute. Eddie Miles is without a doubt among the very best, and he has a huge national following. All tribute artists have the costumes and the hair, and they sound like Elvis, but no one looks more like the King than Eddie Miles. On top of that, he has a smile that connects with the audience. You just want to like the guy. Scotty Moore once said, “Eddie Miles, a fine entertainer, respectfully re-creating the image. But, most of all, keeping the music alive.” As he did at the Legends Concert two years ago, Miles will specialize in songs from the jump suit era. He will dig deep into the Elvis musical library and perform some lesser-known songs. Fans who dig Eddie Miles will be able to see him headline his own show later in Elvis Week.
STAN PERKINS (Vocalist and Guitar): If DJ Fontana or Buddy Harman need to take a break during the Legends Salute, Stan Perkins can fill in admirably. He is the first born son of Carl Perkins, and he played drums in is father’s band for 22 years. He also recorded with Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, Paul Simon and John Fogerty. After Carl Perkins passed away, Stan emerged to pursue his own career. He is an accomplished guitar player, an excellent singer, and a grand showman who carries on the family tradition in rockabilly and rock ‘n roll music. You will be thoroughly entertained when Stan Perkins talks the stage to sing the songs of both Elvis and his dad.
LEE ROCKER (Vocalist and Standup Bass): A big surprise at the “25th Anniversary, The Legends Concert,” was Lee Rocker, who has currently rejoined the Stray Cats on a European tour and returns just in time for The Legends Concert August 13th.
© 2004 Philip R Arnold
Contributing Editor Phil Arnold wouldn’t miss the Legends Salute for anything. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.