Scotty Moore, guitarist for Elvis Presley, dies
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.