Tag Archives: DJ Fontana

Remembering DJ Fontana

DJ Fontana at center of Band

Perhaps you do the same thing I do when musicians we love pass away. Last year when Tom Petty and Chuck Berry died, I pulled out old albums and CDs and listened to their music as a way to connect with them and commemorate their impact on me.

But when DJ Fontana died two days ago, it didn’t seem as satisfying to listen to Elvis songs. I wanted something unique to DJ. Then I remembered I had his book.

DJ Fontana book - The Beat Behind the King

 

Although I had read it when it came out in 2002, I sat down and read it again. I was wonderful. Everyone who has met DJ knows he is a down-home good ole boy, and his personality shines through the words.

DJ Fontana at Drums

 

But there was a special bonus in DJ’s book. It contained a CD titled “Life on the Road,” and for some reason, I had never listened to it before.

 

DJ Fontana - Life on the Road CD

Well, I plopped that thing into the player and was mesmerized for the next 23 minutes. It was like DJ and I were sitting together at a bar, and he was telling all these wonderful old stories. Now, I’m going to miss him even more.

I’m not sure, but I suspect that the audio on this CD was the taped interview that publisher Darwin Lamm used to write the book chapter also titled “Life on the Road.” Of course, some language was cleaned up and some other editing changed things a bit. There were also short stories that ended up in the chapters titled “Recording with Elvis” and “68 Special.”

 

DJ Played with 20 Singers

Tributes to DJ Fontana are all over the web now, and I would like to offer you something different than the same stuff you’ve already read. For example, DJ was a much in-demand session musician in his career after Elvis. This page from his book lists twenty artists he has played or recorded with.

 

DJ Played with 19 more Singers

Here are nineteen more. And you could add a few more that came along after 2002. I’m not sure why mostly pictures of Elvis were used on these two pages. There are plenty of other photos in the book, half or even full page shots, and DJ is in most of them.

 

DJ in Lederhosen - G.I. Blues

Bet you won’t see this picture in any other tribute to DJ. It was taken on the set of G.I. Blues. All the guys playing in the band in the German bar were dressed in lederhosen. DJ tells a story in the book about how he had to allow make-up to be put on his knees “to give them a bit of color.’

DJ appeared in three other Elvis movies: Loving You, Jailhouse Rock, and King Creole.

DJ's Solo Scene in Loving You

This is DJ’s solo scene in Loving You where he comes out of a high school after a spring hop and removes the sign that announced the performance they just finished.

 

DJ-Fontana-and-Karen-Arrive-on-the-Red-Carpet-at-Rock-and-Roll-Hall-of-Fame-Inductions

This is DJ and wife Karen walking on the red carpet to his 2009 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Bill Black was also voted in posthumously.

DJ Fontana, Nancy Shockley & Louis Black at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction

This is DJ accepting his statuette. Beside him are Bill Black’s children, Nancy and Louis. At the far right is Max Weinburg, the drummer in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, who inducted DJ. Weinburg had campaigned for years to get DJ inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Max Weinburg Article in Elvis the Magazine

Max Weinburg Article in Elvis the Magazine

 

Phil Arnold, Joe Esposito & DJ Fontana

This is a picture of me standing behind Joe Esposito and DJ Fontana at Elvis Week 2007. I was supposedly doing security detail (making sure nobody pushed in line or stole the books they were selling and signing), but all the fans were well behaved and it was just fun for me. I met Al Wertheimer a few minutes after this picture was snapped.

DJ Signing Books at Elvis Week 2007

This is a shot from behind the table. DJ signed a lot of books that day. Everybody loved DJ.

 

I’d like to close with words from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as they remembered DJ:

Drummer DJ Fontana was a rockabilly icon and the indispensable pulse at the center of Elvis Presley’s songs. For fourteen years he played alongside of Elvis as part of the band. Together they recorded hundreds of songs and blew audiences away with rollicking, fun-loving, informal jams.

 

 

DJ Looking Spiffy at Elvis Week 2007

 

Goodbye DJ. We’ll miss you. Say hi to Elvis for us.

 

© 2018 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

Random Thoughts on Encore’s The Elvis Collection

Elvis fans ought to be happy this month.  Cable channel Encore is showing an Elvis movie, commercial free, at 8 PM every night in May.  Encore labels it The Elvis Collection, and their promo pitch is Whole Lotta Elvis.  Six of the movies are shown twice, so that means they are presenting twenty-five Elvis films.  This is so cool.

Logo - The Elvis Collection

 

The first three Elvis movies have already been shown (two will be repeated later), but that leaves plenty to discuss on ElvisBlog.  We’ll do it one week at a time, starting with Saturday May 4.  However, there will be no serious reviews.  For that, I suggest you check out my friend Alan Hanson’s wonderful reviews of all Elvis movies on his Elvis-History Blog.  As the title of this article says, whatever random thoughts pop into my mind for each movie will be shared here.  Most Elvis movies have been covered or mentioned in previous ElvisBlog articles, so there will be links back to them, as well.

 

Here is the entire schedule:

5/1 – Girls, Girls, Girls  (repeated on 5/6)

5/2 – Frankie and Johnny

5/3 – Blue Hawaii   (repeated on 5/13)

5/4 – Jailhouse Rock  (repeated on 5/29)

5/5 – King Creole 5/6 – Girls, Girls, Girls

5/7 – Speedway

5/8 – Stay Away Joe

5/9 — Fun In Acapulco

5/10 – Live A Little, Love A Little

5/11 – Viva Las Vegas  (repeated on 5/25)

5/12 – Spinout

5/13 — Blue Hawaii

5/14 — This Is Elvis   (repeated on 5/22)

5/15 — Paradise, Hawaiian Style

5/16 — Viva Las Vegas

5/17 — Kissin’ Cousins

5/18 — G.I. Blues   (repeated on 5/28)

5/19 – Clambake

5/20 — t Happened At The World’s Fair

5/21 — Follow That Dream

5/22 — This Is Elvis

5/23 — Easy Come, Easy Go

5/24 — Harum Scarum

5/25 — Viva Las Vegas

5/26 — Girl Happy

5/27 — Change Of Habit

5/28 — G.I. Blues

5/29 — Jailhouse Rock

5/30 – Roustabout

5/31 — Kid Galahad

 

Let’s do some random thoughts on the next week’s movies.

 

Saturday, May 4 (repeated May 29) – Jailhouse Rock:

Jailhouse Rock DVD

 

Well, I guess I’ve seen it eight or nine times already, but I’ll do it again for sure.  I like the good job Elvis does with a real dramatic part.  And I consider the Jailhouse Rock soundtrack is the best Elvis ever did, without any close second.  It has two huge hits:  “Jailhouse Rock” and “Treat Me Nice.”  It contains my second favorite Elvis song of all time: “(You’re So Square) Baby, I Don’t Care.”   And, because I am partial to the blues songs Elvis recorded, I love the two in this movie: “I Want To Be Free,” and “Don’t Leave Me Now.”

Both songs were written by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, as were the other four songs in the movie.  It is incredulous that they composed this entire terrific soundtrack in four hours one afternoon.

Dance Sequence

I never get tired of watching the “Jailhouse Rock” dance scene, widely considered the predecessor of the modern music video.  Elvis could really dance.

I also think Jailhouse Rock is where you will hear the best Elvis line in any movie.  After co-star Judy Tyler rejects his advances, Elvis says to her, “That ain’t tactics, honey.  It’s just the beast in me.”

It's Just The Beast In Me

 

Tyler is hotter is some of the off camera photos than she is in the movie.

Elvis and Judy Tyler

But, the actress I like watching is Jennifer Holden.  I love the scene where she really gets into kissing Elvis during the filming of a movie.  It has to be indicative of what went on with a lot of Elvis’ co-stars.  Oh, yes, when the camera switches to a shot of the hangers-on watching the kissing scene, you can see Elvis’ buddy George Klein in the crowd.

Jennifer Holden Near Kiss

 

However, the biggest reason I never miss Jailhouse Rock is because there is so much screen time for Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, and Bill Black.  Ever since I had breakfast with Scotty and DJ at Elvis Week 2007 I have been a big fan.

 Jailhouse Rock Recording Studio Scene

 

There is an interesting ElvisBlog article about a continuity blooper with Scotty’s sunglasses at the poolside party performance of “Baby, I Don’t Care.”

There is another interesting continuity blooper in Jailhouse Rock that you have to concentrate on or you will miss it.  Drink glasses that Elvis knocks over during a moment of anger in the Club La Florita suddenly reappear as he storms out of the club.

Storming Off

 

So, now you know all the things I will be checking out while watching Jailhouse Rock:  Elvis handling a true dramatic role, the songs, the dance scene, the classic line, the kissing scene, Scotty, DJ and Bill, and two bloopers.  After all, if you’ve seen the movie eight times already, you really know the plot.  So, it’s nice to have other things to look for.

 

It turns out I had more random thoughts on Jailhouse Rock than I realized.  So, this article won’t cover all the Elvis movies on Encore the next week.  Instead, I’ll do more articles covering two or three movies before their show time.

 

©  2013    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.