Scotty Moore, gui­tarist for Elvis Pres­ley, dies

The Daily Herald - - NEWS - By Matt Schudel

Scotty Moore, who helped ig­nite the rockand-roll revo­lu­tion in the mid-1950s with his elec­tri­fy­ing gui­tar work on Elvis Pres­ley’s first record­ings and who prac­ti­cally in­vented the vo­cab­u­lary of the rock gui­tar for gen­er­a­tions to come, died June 28 at his home near Nashville, Ten­nessee. He was 84.

He had kid­ney ail­ments and a heart at­tack, said his bi­og­ra­pher, James Dick­er­son.

In 1954, Moore was a self-taught gui­tarist and Navy vet­eran strug­gling to find a foothold in the mu­sic world. He and his coun­try

band, the Star­lite Wran­glers, had worked in Sam Phillips’s Sun Records stu­dio in Mem­phis, and Phillips passed along the name of a young singer in­ter­ested in mak­ing a record.

Moore called the 19-year-old Pres­ley at home and in­vited him to his house for a re­hearsal. The next day, Pres­ley showed up and sang a few songs with Moore and Bill Black, the bass player from the Wran­glers.

A day later, on July 5, 1954, they went to Sun Records and tried with­out suc­cess for sev­eral hours to cut a record.

“All of a sud­den, Elvis just started singing this song, jump­ing around and act­ing the fool,” Moore told au­thor Peter Gu­ral­nick for his 1994 biog­ra­phy, “Last Train to Mem­phis: The Rise of Elvis Pres­ley,” “and then Bill picked up his bass, and he started act­ing the fool, too, and I started play­ing with them.”

The song was “That’s All Right,” a blues tune recorded in the 1940s by Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup. Phillips poked his head of the con­trol booth and asked what they were do­ing.

“And we said, ‘We don’t know,’ ” Moore re­called to Gu­ral­nick. “‘Well, back up,’ he said, ‘try to find a place to start, and do it again.’ “

Moore im­pro­vised a gui­tar solo, and the re­sult was an ex­u­ber­ant, high-spir­ited per­for­mance un­like any­thing else that had come be­fore.

When Phillips played back the record­ing, Moore said, “We couldn’t be­lieve it was us. It just sounded sort of raw and ragged. We thought it was ex­cit­ing, but what was it? It was just so com­pletely dif­fer­ent.”

In this 1957 file photo, Elvis Pres­ley per­forms on tour in the sum­mer of 1957, with Scotty Moore (left) on gui­tar.

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