Quietus: Scotty Moore

Emma Connolly

Emma Connolly

Emma lives in England. Ace the dog keeps her feet and heart warm while she writes about music and culture.
Emma Connolly

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December 27, 1931 – June 28, 2016
Ever heard of the Blue Moon Boys? They toured across America during the mid-1050s. A simple set-up, as their band name suggests, they were a country-style trio signed to Sam Phillips’ Sun Records label in Memphis, who became official members of the Louisiana Hayride radio programme in 1954. They then became a quartet with the addition of drummer D.J. Fontana. Their live appearances subsequently became sporadic, but they played a final, televised, gig in 1968. By then bassist Bill Black had sadly died of a brain tumor, but D.J. Fontana appeared alongside the remaining two original members: Elvis Presley and Scotty Moore.

Scotty’s guitar playing contained a mixture of influences – country, jazz and blues – which meshed perfectly with Elvis’ hillbilly blues vocals. It does not stretch the truth to claim that Scotty Moore was the prototype ‘rock guitarist’, creating the concept of a band where the vocalist and lead guitarist worked together to form an immediately identifiable sound. The Blue Moon Boys laid the foundation stones of rock and roll. As Keith Richards said, “When I heard Heartbreak Hotel, I knew what I wanted to do in life. It was as plain as day. All I wanted to do in the world was to be able to play and sound like that. Everyone else wanted to be Elvis, I wanted to be Scotty.”

Scotty played guitar on dozens of Elvis Presley’s recordings, including ‘Hound Dog’, ‘Blue Suede Shoes’, ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ and ‘Jailhouse Rock’. He appeared on Presley’s famous 1968 ‘Comeback Special’ and continued to be active and an influence on subsequent generations, only retiring from touring in 2007. In 2000, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 2013 he released a book documenting his time with Elvis. On October 17, 2015 Scotty was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame.  Though not in attendance, Keith Richards accepted the award on his behalf. On June 28, 2016, Scotty’s website manager announced “I’m very sorry to report that Scotty died earlier today.”
Scotty Moore was 84, a founding father of modern music, whose influence will live for as long as rock and roll music continues to move hearts and hips.