When Scotty Moore returned to Nashville after appearing in the ‘68 Comeback Special, he never dreamed it was the last time he would perform on stage for 24 years.
In fact, Elvis had talked about wanting to do a tour in Europe. Now that he was essentially finished with movies, Elvis was energized to perform live again, and Scotty was excited about getting back on stage with him. Scotty went home to Nashville and waited for a call from Elvis to say the European tour was on.
Of course, Col. Parker put a quick end to such an idea. He was an illegal alien from Holland and knew he couldn’t get a US passport, so he could never accompany Elvis to Europe. And, Parker was not about to allow Elvis to tour over there without the constant presence of his manager. So the tour idea died.
Scotty went on with his life as a studio sound engineer, work that kept him associated with the music business, without ever performing. Years later he owned a cassette duplicating company, and followed that by opening a printing shop that made the label inserts for the tapes.
Scotty’s guitars sat essentially untouched for years. He actually thought of himself as a ‘former guitar player,’ and was comfortable with it. He did, however, maintain contact with many dozens of folks in the music business – including Carl Perkins.
Perkins underwent cancer surgery in 1991, but in early 1992 it was in remission. He felt strong enough to record a new album, and wanted to do it in the old Sun Studios in Memphis. So, Perkins called Scotty and asked him to join the project. Scotty resisted, repeatedly saying, “I can’t do this.” However, Perkins persisted, and soon he, Scotty, DJ Fontana and a group of their studio musician friends completed the recording session that resulted in 706 ReUnion.
Two years earlier, Carl Perkins had been the headliner at the first “Good Rockin’ Tonight” concert, presented during Elvis Week by Darwin Lamm, editor and publisher of Elvis International magazine. Perkins was unable to sing at the second annual concert in 1991 because of his cancer surgery, but he was back as headliner again for “Good Rockin’ Tonight 3” in 1992.
Again, Carl Perkins worked on Scotty to join him – this time, on stage playing the guitar. Scotty agreed, and became part of the most exciting line-up in the history of Elvis Week concerts. Not only did the fans get to see Elvis’ first guitar player, they also got to see his last one, James Burton.
The Sun Rhythm Section, featuring Sunny Burgess and DJ Fontana opened the show and wowed the audience with an excellent Rockabilly set. Also on the bill were the Jordanaires who backed Elvis on too many records to count and Ronnie McDowell who sang the songs on several Elvis movies and TV biographies.
Scotty’s long-time friend, Gail Pollock, summarized the show, “It was electric.” Especially, when Carl Perkins and Scotty Moore were on stage together.
After that, Scotty was hooked. A week after the concert in Memphis, he went to England to perform with the Jordanaires. He had been away from performing for 24 years, but at age 61, Scotty Moore was back. Thousands of fans have seen him at concerts in the years since, and Scotty Moore has brought tears of happiness to more than a few of them.
Many thanks to James Roy, webmaster for www.scottymoore.net, and to Gail Pollock for their help in supplying the photographs and historical reference material for this article.
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