Scotty Moore, the original guitarist on Elvis Presley’s early recordings, died in Nashville on Tuesday. Moore’s death came following a several months-long period of poor health and other medical complications.
Born in Gadsden, Tenn., Moore played guitar throughout his 84 years. First picking up guitar at age eight, Moore started his first country band, The Starlite Rangers, with Bill Black in 1954. After meeting with Sam Phillips of the Memphis-based Sun Records led to a writing session with Presley, Moore was taken on as Presley’s guitarist behind his early recordings. Moore stayed with Presley after he was picked up by RCA Records and was recorded on Presley’s legendary tracks, including “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock” and “Heartbreak Hotel.” Moore was the sole surviving member of Presley’s original band.
Moore has been credited with helping to shape Presley’s sound and image, and also did a stint as Presley’s first manager. In 1964, Moore released a collection of instrumental guitar music, The Guitar that Changed the World.
of The Rolling Stones has cited Moore as one of the reasons he became a musician. “When I heard ‘Heartbreak Hotel,’ I knew what I wanted to do in life. It was as plain as day,” Richards once said. “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.”
Moore was inducted into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, and just last year was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame. Also in 2015, Moore was ranked at number 29 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 greatest guitarists.
Matt Ross-Spang, a current sound engineer at Sun Records, took to Instagram to share his grief, proclaiming Moore as “the guitarist that changed the world.”
Revisit Moore’s iconic rock ‘n’ roll stylings with this video from Presley’s film Jailhouse Rock, which Moore was also featured in.