Guitar players’ heaven just added another member last week. The venerable Scotty Moore passed away at age 84. Most people don’t know who Scotty Moore is or was.
That’s the way he wanted it.
In early 1956 my eleven year old brother was hooked on a new record. It was called “Heartbreak Hotel.” Yes, he loved Elvis immediately, but he loved Elvis’s guitar player, too. My brother had been playing his guitar for five years, but hearing Scotty Moore on the Elvis record gave him a new hero.
Scotty also influenced the very essence of rock and country music. In 1955 his ‘slapback’ sound on the Elvis recording, “Mystery Train,” was the basis for the sound we now call Rockabilly.
Guitar players from Bruce Springsteen to Jimmy Page called Scotty Moore their hero. 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.”
After serving in the navy in Korea and China from 1948 til 1952, Scotty returned to Memphis and formed a little country band with his buddy, another famous rock name, Bill Black. They started working at studio musicians for Sam Phillips at Sun Studios. In July of 1954, the secretary for Sam Phillips recommended he audition a young singer named Elvis Presley. Out of that audition came the first Elvis recording, “That’s Alright Mama.”
Elvis and Scotty formed a lifetime friendship and Scotty added his unique guitar sounds to the music of Elvis for fourteen years.
Scotty went on to manage and own many record labels and produced and managed dozens of great acts. He also studio-engineered many famous record releases. When he engineered the 1970 Ringo Star album, “Beacoup of Blues,” he became the only person to work for the two most influential record labels of all time…Apple Records and Sun Records.
In September of 1997, Scotty cast his hand print for the famous Rock Walk at Guitar Center Hollywood. The other inductees on that day included Chet Atkins, Hank Garland, Duane Eddy and James Burton.
In 2000 Scotty was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.