Scotty Moore, the guitarist who played on Elvis Presley's earliest records, died on June 28 2016 at the age of 84.
Moore was born on December 27 1931 in Gadsen, Tennessee. He learned to
play guitar when he was only around 8 years old. Growing up he was a fan
of both jazz and country music, in particular guitarists Les Paul and
Chet Atkins. He served in the United States Navy form 1948 to 1952.
After his service was over he worked at a dry cleaner by day and played
music at night. He played with a country band called the Starlite
Wranglers, who would be recorded by Sam Phillips of Sun Records. He also
did session work at Sun Records.
It was on July 5 1954
that Sam Phillips brought Scotty Moore and bass player Bill Black in to
record with a newly signed singer named Elvis Presley. The session
proved fruitless until late into the night when the trio recorded Elvis
Presley's version of "That's All Right". In the next few days they also
recorded a cover of Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky". "That's All
Right" was released as a single, with "Blue Moon of Kentucky" as the
Eventually Scotty Moore and Bill Black would be
named The Blue Moon Boys. They were later joined by drummer D. J.
Fontana. They not only recorded with Elvis, but they also toured with
him throughout the country and appeared on television with him. When
Elvis Presley signed with RCA Records, The Blue Moon Boys continued to
perform with him. Ultimately Scotty Moore appeared on some of Elvis's
most famous records, including "Good Rockin' Tonight", "Mystery Train",
"Baby Let's Play House", "Heartbreak Hotel", "Hound Dog", "Jailhouse
Rock", "Surrender", "Good Luck Charm", "(You're The) Devil in
Disguise", and "Bossa Nova Baby". The Blue Moon Boys also performed in
four of Elvis Presley's movies (Loving You, Jailhouse Rock, King Creole, and G.I. Blues).
while Elvis Presley became a millionaire, Scotty Moore was not making
nearly as much money. In 1956 he only made a little over $8000. He also
did not get along with Colonel Tom Parker, the manager who exerted
nearly total control over Elvis's career. Eventually both Scotty Moore
and Bill Black left The Blue Moon Boys.
Presley was serving in the United States Army, Mr. Moore worked at
Fernwood Records and, among other things, produced the hit single
"Tragedy" for Thomas Wayne Perkins. After parting ways with Elvis
Presley, Scotty Moore released a solo album The Guitar That Changed the World! in 1964. He played with Elvis and D. J. Fontana one last time in 1968, on the legendary television special Elvis (informally known as the Elvis Comeback Special).
In 1977 Scott Moore released a second solo album titled What's Left. In 1997 he played on the Elvis Presley tribute album All the King's Men alongside Keith Richards, Levon Helm, and others. That same year he appeared on another tribute album, Elvis: A Tribute to the King. In 2001 he backed Paul McCartney on his cover of "That's All Right".
Moore was certainly among the most influential guitarists in rock
history. He took the finger picking style of guitar playing utilised by
Chet Atkins and used it for rock 'n' roll. This made him rather unique
among early rock guitarists. In his book The Heart of Rock & Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made,
rock critic Dave Marsh even credits Scotty Moore with having invented
power chords on the single "Jailhouse Rock". While arguably the power
chord was in use before "Jailhouse Rock" (it can be seen in the early
Fifties in recordings by Willie Johnson and Pat Hare), there can be no
doubt that Scotty Moore's use of them would have a lasting influence.
Scotty Moore would have an influence on such rock guitarists as Keith
Richards of The Rolling Stones, George Harrison of The Beatles, and Jeff
Beck. Quite simply, without Scotty Moore the history of rock music
would be very, very different.