Scotty and Elvis

Scotty and Elvis: Aboard the Mystery Train

SCOTTY MOORE
WITH JAMES L. DICKERSON
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 304
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt24hw8v
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  • Book Info
    Scotty and Elvis
    Book Description:

    When Elvis Presley first showed up at Sam Phillips's Memphis-based Sun Records studio, he was a shy teenager in search of a sound. Phillips invited a local guitarist named Scotty Moore to stand in. Scotty listened carefully to the young singer and immediately realized that Elvis had something special. Along with bass player Bill Black, the triorecorded an old blues number called "That's All Right, Mama." It turned out to be Elvis's first single and the defining record of his early style, with a trillingguitar hook that swirled country and blues together and minted a sound with unforgettable appeal. Its success launched a whirlwind of touring, radio appearances, and Elvis's first break into movies. Scotty was there every step of the way as both guitarist and manager, until Elvis's new manager, Colonel Tom Parker, pushed him out. Scotty and Elvis would not perform together again until the classic 1968 "comeback" television special. Scotty never saw Elvis after that.

    With both Bill Black and Elvis gone, Scotty Moore is the only one left to tell the story of how Elvis and Scotty transformed popular music and how Scotty created the sound that became a prototype for so many rock guitarists to follow. Thoroughly updated, this edition delivers guitarist Scotty Moore's story as never before

    eISBN: 978-1-62103-950-1
    Subjects: Music, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-2)
  3. 1 DIGGING UP WEST TENNESSEE ROOTS
    (pp. 3-16)

    When I came into the world two days after Christmas 1931, the same year that George Jones and Skeeter Davis were born, Rudy Vallee and his Connecticut Yankees were all the rage, even in rural West Tennessee, where my mother gave birth to me at home on the family farm. That year Louis Armstrong had a hit with “Lazy River” and Bud and Joe Billings had a country hit with “When Your Hair Has Turned to Silver.” Also on the charts that year were Ted Lewis with “Just a Gigolo” and Duke Ellington with “Mood Indigo.” It was a very...

  4. 2 SLOW BOAT OUT OF CHINA
    (pp. 17-30)

    By the time I entered the Navy in 1948, the number of enlisted personnel had dropped from 2.9 million in 1945 to a little more than 300,000. I could have been sent to boot camp at one of three training centers: Baltimore, Maryland; Waukegan, Illinois; or San Diego, California. By the luck of the draw, I got San Diego, also the training site for the U.S. Marines.

    San Diego was more than half a continent away from West Tennessee, but, for all its cultural and geographical differences, it might as well have been on the other side of the world....

  5. 3 DOING THE MEMPHIS THANG
    (pp. 31-45)

    During the four years I had sailed the Pacific, experiencing the horrors of war, the sensual and sometimes bizarre pleasures of foreign cultures, and the mind-numbing boredom of life as a below-the-deck seaman, the America I left behind had undergone radical changes. On the day of my discharge, the federal government conducted the largest drug bust in history. In a nationwide effort that targeted every major American city, federal agents made more than 500 arrests, including eight in Tennessee. The Tennessee drug bust was the lead story in the January 5, 1952, edition of the NashvilleTennessean. The newspaper made...

  6. 4 THE SUN RISES ON THE BLUE MOON BOYS
    (pp. 46-72)

    If you have ever been in Memphis in July, you know that the heat is unbearable. On most days the temperature hits one hundred degrees. Drive ten miles in any direction, out into the rich farmland of north Mississippi, east Arkansas or west Tennessee, and the temperature drops noticeably. Whether Memphis is a thermal hot spot because of the tons of concrete that surround it or because rising moisture from the Mississippi River envelopes the city in a suffocating cover of humidity—or simply because the gods bear a grudge for some unpardonable sin anchored in the city’s past—is...

  7. 5 HITTING PAY DIRT
    (pp. 73-89)

    Sam sparred with theLouisiana Hayridefor several weeks over booking Elvis for its weekly, Saturday-night radio program. Broadcast on KWKH, a 50,000-watt station in Shreveport, it was second only to theOpryin influence with country-music audiences. In some ways the six-year-old program had eclipsed theOpryin importance, especially in the area of discovering new talent. While theOpryboosted the careers of big-name artists, theHayride, perhaps feeling it had more to gain by banking on long shots, took a chance on new talent such as Hank Williams, Jim Reeves, Kitty Wells, and Faron Young.

    Pappy Covington,...

  8. 6 ON THE ROAD WITH ELVIS
    (pp. 90-101)

    The summer of 1955 was in many ways the most eventful year of our career. It began with us further honing our skills as stage performers and experiencing the first wave of fan hysteria. As the summer progressed, it became even more hectic. Back in Memphis after a 21-day tour with the Hank Snow jamboree that had taken us across the Southeast—and spawned a pattern of fan reaction that would at times leave Elvis shaken and stripped of some of his clothes—we played dates in Arkansas and Mississippi and got ready for another session in Sam’s studio that...

  9. 7 SCRIPTING THE MOVIE YEARS
    (pp. 102-134)

    Our first recording session with RCA Records took place on January 10, 1956. By the time we arrived in Nashville the record label already had released our previous records under its own imprint. Overnight, it was as if Sun Records had never existed in Elvis’s career. That should have been a lesson to the remnants of the Blue Moon Boys, but we were much too busy making music to devote much time to reading tea leaves.

    RCA’s first release was the last single issued by Sun Records, “I Forgot to Remember to Forget.” It stayed on the country charts for...

  10. 8 TRAGEDY IS A REVOLVING DOOR
    (pp. 135-152)

    Once I was officially unemployed, I wasted no time looking for work. I booked Bill and me for a sixteen-day engagement at the Texas State Fair. As it turned out, it was the most lucrative booking of our career. We were asked to play four shows a day from October 5 through October 20. We were paid $1,600 plus expenses. It was double what we made working for Elvis. Not a bad deal.

    As I read the newspaper accounts of our resignation—and Elvis’s comments to reporters about Bill and myself—I realized that Elvis just didn’t get it. It...

  11. 9 MY FIRST ALBUM WITH ROYALTIES
    (pp. 153-170)

    By the time I began working at Sam Phillips’s Recording Service, Sun Records had not placed a record in the Top 20 in over two years.¹¹ The record label was on a downward spiral. The two major talents left in Sam’s stable were Jerry Lee Lewis and newcomer Charlie Rich, whose song “Lonely Weekends” had been a regional hit in 1959. Johnny Cash had moved on to greener pastures; Carl Perkins seemingly had dropped out of sight. The reigning Memphis hitmakers were Elvis’s former band members, myself with “Tragedy” and Bill Black with his “Smokie (Parts 1 & 2).” Elvis...

  12. 10 A FAREWELL PERFORMANCE
    (pp. 171-186)

    Not long after Bill Black’s funeral, Bobbie and I got back together. Death has a way of nudging people to count their blessings. In 1966, Bobbie and Andrea moved to Nashville to live with me. Andrea turned six in time to start school that year. Bobbie was reluctant to give up a secure job with Sears, but she wanted Andrea to have a live-in father when she entered first grade. Like a lot of people in the music business I had become a workaholic, coming home exhausted from long days. It was nice to hear other voices instead of stone-cold...

  13. 11 RINGO, TRACY, AND A CAST OF THOUSANDS
    (pp. 187-202)

    Tracy Nelson was never one to mince words. When asked where she lived, she said, “I live way the fuck out in Crib Death, Tennessee—my nearest neighbor is three-quarters of a mile away.” The blues singer explained that her farm was west of Nashville. There are many ways to get to that farm, but the road that led her there began in 1969 at Music City Recorders.

    That year Tracy and her group, Mother Earth, were out promoting their self-titled debut album, when the tour ended and they looked up from the road haze to get their bearings—and...

  14. 12 ON THE ROAD AGAIN
    (pp. 203-223)

    Carol Burnett and Dolly Parton could not have been more different. Dolly was bubbly, effervescent, and charmingly democratic in her approach to those with whom she worked. She’d just as soon hug you as look at you. By contrast, Carol was intense and standoffish, someone who avoided eye contact and conversation, preferring the solitude of her own company.

    None of that matters to me. Just an observation.

    Carol and Dolly were in Nashville to tape a television special at Opryland,Carol and Dolly Together Again for the First Time. Before they taped the show, they gathered at Monument to record...

  15. 13 JAMMING WITH A ROLLING STONE
    (pp. 224-228)

    The way Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards tells it, he was thirteen the first time he heard me play guitar. It was late at night and—stubbornly against his parents’ explicit orders to go to sleep—he was in his bedroom behind closed doors listening to Radio Luxembourg on a transistor radio. One minute the reception was fine, the next it was riddled with nerve-shattering static. Back and forth it went. Suddenly, from the bottomless depths of a sonic wave of ever-changing white noise, emerged the heart-stopping music of “Heartbreak Hotel.”

    Keith literally chased the song about his room as...

  16. 14 I’M PRETTY MUCH STILL HERE, I GUESS
    (pp. 229-240)

    One of the first things that I did after my autobiography,That’s Alright, Elvis, was published in the fall of 1997 was to hit the road with my coauthor to promote the book. We began our book tour with a train ride to New York City, a re-creation of the ride that Elvis, Bill, and I made on our first trip to New York, only this time around, there were two major differences: The first was that because I lived in Nashville, and Memphis no longer had direct train service to New York, we had to drive all the way...

  17. 15 HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME
    (pp. 241-244)

    2011, I must admit, gave me pause.

    It was the year I turned 80.

    At 20 or 30 or 40 years of age no one ever thinks about turning 80. It just seems too far away. Besides, I’m convinced that most people live their lives with the expectation that they never will make it to 80. The odds are against you.

    The worst part about surviving to 80 is not the aches and pains, or the frequent trips to the doctor, or even the realization that physically you can’t do the things that you used to do. The worst part...

  18. POSTSCRIPT
    (pp. 245-246)
    James L. Dickerson

    When it comes to Scotty’s place in rock ’n’ roll history, the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards is emphatic with his opinion: Scotty is Number One.

    First of all, he was laying the licks down for my generation. He gave us the grounding. If you are my age, he was the beacon. You heard a lot of other cats later, but Scotty is the one who turned you on. To me, and it’s a sad thing to say, but without Scotty, Elvis wouldn’t have been as big. It was Scotty and Bill Black’s rapport—and Scotty’s ability to understand the space...

  19. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 247-248)
  20. GUITARS OWNED BY SCOTTY MOORE
    (pp. 249-250)
  21. SCOTTY MOORE’S INCOME DURING HIS YEARS WITH ELVIS
    (pp. 251-252)
  22. SCOTTY MOORE DISCOGRAPHY
    (pp. 253-258)
  23. NOTES
    (pp. 259-261)
  24. INDEX
    (pp. 262-264)
  25. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)