Fans of Elvis Presley were devastated this week when his legendary guitarist Scotty Moore passed away on Tuesday. He was 84 years-old.
The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported that Moore died at his Nashville home this week after struggling with his health for several months. According to Taste of Country, Moore has been celebrated as one of the most influential guitarists ever who helped change the face of music with Presley.
Born on Dec. 27, 1931, Moore began playing the guitar when he was 8 years-old. Though he was underage, he enlisted in the Navy in 1948 and fought in China and Korea before his discharge in 1952.
Moore then moved to Memphis, where he started playing in a band that featured future Elvis Presley bass player Bill Black. It was shortly after that that Moore met Presley himself, and the three were jamming together during a break at the Sun Studio when when Sun Record founder Sam Phillips recorded them playing “That’s All Right,” the record that launched rock music.
“It was a world-changing event,” Sam Phillips’ son, Jerry Phillips, recalled, “but without Scotty it wouldn’t have been world-changing.”
This single launched Presley’s career, and Moore served as his manager during those first few months. Moore played on all of Presley’s early hits, and Jerry Phillips says the guitarist was the musical glue that held the records together.
“Elvis Presley wouldn’t have been Elvis Presley without Scotty Moore. I think my dad would agree with that,” Phillips stated. “You gotta remember, there were only three instruments on those things. Scotty, Bill [Black] and Elvis. Scotty really just made everything work.”
Disputes over money caused Presley’s band to break up in 1957, the year before he was drafted. Moore went on to work as an engineer and producer before reuniting with Presley in the mid-1960s to play with him in many of his sessions. Their last performance together was for a 1968 TV special that launched Presley’s comeback after a commercial cooling off period.
Moore effectively stopped playing after that and spent the next two decades running his own studio in Nashville. He later started playing again in 1992 at the urging of Carl Perkins, appearing on the album 706 ReUnion: A Sentimental Journey. The legendary guitarist was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2006. He was also recently inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in October of 2015.
Rest in peace, Scotty Moore!