As every Elvis fan knows by now, Scotty Moore passed away on Wednesday, June 28, at age 84. Today you can find highlights of Scotty’s career with Elvis on many, many websites. And you probably know the story already, so I’ll take another approach.
This blog is usually fun to do, but writing about Scotty Moore leaving us is a melancholy experience. I think the world of him. I had the honor and privilege of having breakfast with him back at Elvis Week 2007, along with Darwin Lamm, publisher of Elvis International magazine. Scotty was in town to perform at two concerts Darwin was presenting, and I got to hang out backstage with him and the other musicians. He obliged me with autographs and a photo pose.
I want to do a proper tribute and have so much I could share with you readers, but I don’t know where to begin.
Scotty has been mentioned in ElvisBlog over 80 times. There is a Scotty Moore tab under Blog Categories, and nine posts about him are in there. There’s also a lot more about the whole original band, Scotty, Bill Black, and DJ Fontana. Maybe the way to start this tribute is to feature excerpts from some of these old posts.
This first blog article was written to highlight those 2007 concerts. billed as Scotty Moore — The Last Man Standing. This was a reference to the four men present on July 5, 1954 when Elvis recorded his first single at Sun Records. There is also an expression of my appreciation for Scotty Moore.
Scotty Moore – The Last Man Standing
Graceland is a National Historic Landmark. Sun Records is a National Historic Place. I think we need one other special category – National Historic Person, and I have a fine nominee: Scotty Moore.
What qualifies Scotty Moore as a National Historic Person? Well, let’s see. On July 5, 1954, when Elvis recorded his first song, there were four men in the studio. The guitar player was Scotty Moore, and he had a lot to do with creating that unique sound. Scotty Moore’s guitar work made an immeasurable contribution to the initial success of Elvis’ music.
The other three men there that historic night are all dead. Bill Black died in 1965, Elvis passed away in 1977, and Sam Phillips left us in 2003. That’s too bad, because the session when “That’s All Right” was recorded was a very special moment in history. Three men gone, only one left. Scotty Moore, the last man standing.
It is now 53 years since that magic moment, and it’s nice to know that Scotty is still alive and well. Don’t count on seeing him at many more Elvis Weeks. It might happen, it might not. But we know one thing for sure. We can see him this year. Scotty is headlining two tribute concerts at Elvis Week 2007.
Those fans that admire and cherish Scotty Moore were thrilled to hear they could catch him on Wednesday, August 15, at the Peabody Hotel. To you folks that are going to Elvis Week but haven’t yet decided what to see, I’m telling you, buy tickets to one of Scotty’s two shows. They are going to be great.
Scotty Moore – The Last Man Standing is a unique concert concept. Both the 2 PM and 5 PM shows are double concerts. Scotty has invited two groups of his favorite musician buddies to perform, and they jumped at the chance to be on stage with him.
So, if you want some good entertainment at Elvis Week, take in one of the double concert starring Scotty Moore. He will appear at no other events in Memphis that week. This is the exclusive appearance of the genuine article, the last man standing. And sadly, it’s looking more and more like a farewell performance.
Join Scotty Moore’s many fans in honoring and appreciating him while you still can. Scotty may not have official recognition as a National Historic Person, but he truly is a national treasure.
Now, nine years later, the last man is no longer standing. And the fans who took in one of those Elvis Week 2007 concerts did indeed see Scotty Moore’s final performance.
I took this shot of Scotty as he left the stage after the 2 o’clock concert. I wish I had also taken a similar shot after the 5 o’clock concert. It would have been a photo of Scotty the last time he ever performed on stage.
That is Keith Richards backstage at a Rolling Stones concert. Those guys loved Scotty. So, here’s an excerpt from an ElvisBlog article that goes back to 2007.
Scotty Moore and the Rolling Stones Backstage
Searching through many Elvis-related websites is both prep work for ElvisBlog and a lot of fun. One site I go back to frequently is www.scottymoore.net . That’s right, the man who helped Elvis give birth to rock & roll has a great website of his own. It contains almost a dozen sections you can check out, but my favorite is SCRAPBOOK, a digital photo album. Hundreds of photos tell the story of places he’s been, people he’s met, and shows he’s done
I visit Scotty’s site frequently, but while I’m there, I’m always drawn back to the same set of pictures in SCRAPBOOK that I’ve seen four or five times before. You probably will understand why, when you see the title: “Backstage With the Rolling Stones in Memphis — December 15, 2005.”
Keith Richards and Ron Wood, who do the guitar fireworks for the Rolling Stones, both love and admire Scotty. They’ve recorded with him and had him backstage at four of their concerts. What started as admiration has grown into genuine friendship.
The SCRAPBOOK pictures show that Scotty and lady friend Gail Pollock and others obviously had a ball in Keith’s dressing room before the show. Then they had concert seats in the eighth row right in front of Mick Jagger (Scotty stayed backstage and watched from there). After the concert, there was a wrap party at the Peabody Hotel. It was here that Scotty got to spend some time with Mick Jagger and drummer Charlie Watts. Ron Wood spent a lot of time posing for smoochin’ pictures with Gail and the other girls. Sure looks like it was a fun party.
One backstage picture is outstanding. The dressing area at the concert venue contained a full-sized, color cutout of Elvis in his famous gold suit. Of course, this got into several of the pictures. I just love the photo of four musicians, Keith, Scotty, Elvis, and Ron. Take a quick glance at the picture and see if Elvis doesn’t look real. I liked the photo so much, I downloaded it to my hard drive and printed it out. Very cool picture.
Scotty’s whole site is, too. You can get lost for hours scrolling down through HISTORY, and connecting on all the links. So check out Scotty’s excellent website. He’s a gentleman who deserves all the good things going on for him now. He’s a national treasure to be cherished.
When you watch Elvis movies over and over, like I do, you start to notice things you missed originally. Years ago, I became fascinated with the roles Scotty, DJ Fontana, and Bill Black had in Elvis’ first few movies. Their screen time was the most in Loving You, prompting this ElvisBlog article from 2012.
Loving You – Starring Scotty, DJ, and Bill (Plus Elvis, of Course)
I recently found something interesting on the website for a Rock and Roll memorabilia auction. It was a movie theater lobby card from Elvis’ 1957 film Loving You. Most Elvis movie cards and posters show pictures of him with one or more of his lovely female co-stars, but this one included Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana, his original guitarist and drummer. I would guess neither man ever knew this lobby card existed, so I am sending copies to their webmasters.
Lobby Card showing DJ Fontana (far left) and Scotty Moore (far right)
Loving You was Elvis’ second movie, his first in color, and also the first of several (many?) where Elvis’ character was a singer. There are elements in this film that are considered auto-biographical. Elvis’ character, Deke Rivers, parallels Elvis’ start as a truck driver; for a beverage distributor in the movie and for an electric company in real life. Once he starts singing in the movie, all the famous frenetic leg-gyrations and hip-swinging are there to produce loud squealing by the young girls in the audience. There is even a female Col. Parker-like manager who gets Deke to sign a personal services contract giving her 50%.
The lobby card reminded me that all three of Elvis’ original bandmates, Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana and Bill Black, have considerable screen time in the movie, so I checked it out again to note all their appearances. Within seconds after the opening credits finish, they are up on a town square stage, in a country band providing music for a political candidate.
Scotty Moore and a Politician
After a few minutes of dialog by other characters, it’s back to the bandstand where we get a similar, but longer look at Scotty and Bill. In fact, Scotty gets his best screen time in any of the Elvis movies — fifteen seconds in a close shot, standing beside the politician.
About seven minutes into the picture, Deke Rivers is persuaded to get up on the stage and sing a song. He chooses “Got A Lot of Livin’ To Do.” This song is now used in Viva Elvis in the big trampoline sequence, which is generally considered one of the highlights of the Cirque du Soleil show.
At the eighteen minute point of Loving You, Elvis’ character is now a full time member of the band. He sings “Let’s Have a Party.” Scotty again fares best with screen time, followed by Bill, and last again, DJ.
Bill, Scotty, Elvis, and DJ Playing “Let’s Have A Party”
Another song in the movie is “Hot Dog.” For a few seconds, the camera shot cuts off the actor members of the band and shows only Scotty, DJ, Elvis and Bill. It’s fun to watch Scotty, because smiles so much and seems to be having a wonderful time. It is during this song that the manager creates a fake riot, very reminiscent of some of Col. Parker’s publicity stunts.
Scotty, DJ, Elvis and Bill Black Playing “Hot Dog”
About 45 minutes into Loving You, Scotty, DJ, and Bill make their last appearance. Elvis’ character sings “Teddy Bear.” Although the band is visible, they are well behind him, and again the lights are dimmed until the song finishes. In this scene, as others, the bandmates move their lips as though singing. In truth, all the very fine vocal accompaniment in the movie came from the Jordanaires, an arrangement that would continue in many more Elvis films.
Taking a Bow after Singing “Teddy Bear.”
Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana and Bill Black also had significant screen time in Elvis’ third and fourth movies, Jailhouse Rock and King Creole. It would be so cool to find lobby cards showing them in these films as well. I’ll keep looking.
These three blog excerpts provide a small glimpse into the many facets of Scotty Moore. I feel like this is just the tip of the iceberg, so there will probably be a Part 2 to this tribute. I’ve got so many pictures of Scotty in my files, it might be fun to do a pictorial essay.
Good bye Scotty. We will really, really miss you. Say hi to Elvis for us.
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