Scotty Moore was born near Gadsden, Tennessee. He learned to play the guitar from family and friends at eight years of age. Although underage when he enlisted, Moore served in the United States Navy between 1948 and 1952. Moore’s early background was in jazz and country music. A fan of guitarist Chet Atkins, Moore led a group called the “Starlite Wranglers” before Sam Phillips at Sun Records put him together with then teenage Elvis Presley. Phillips believed that Moore’s lead guitar and Bill Black’s double bass were all that was needed to augment Presley’s rhythm guitar and lead vocals on their recordings. In 1954 Moore and Black accompanied Elvis on what would become the first legendary Presley hit, the Sun Studios session cut of “That’s All Right”, a recording regarded as a seminal event in rock and roll history. Elvis, Black and Moore then formed the Blue Moon Boys.
For a time, Scotty Moore served as Elvis’s personal manager. They were later joined by drummer D.J. Fontana. Beginning in July 1954, the Blue Moon Boys toured and recorded throughout the American South and, as Presley’s popularity rose, they toured the United States and made appearances in various Presley television shows and motion pictures. The Blue Moon Boys, including Moore, appear in the few 1955 home movie clips that survive of Elvis before he achieved national recognition. Moore, Black, and Fontana also appear on the Dorsey Brothers, Milton Berle, Steve Allen, and Ed Sullivan live TV shows of January 1956 to January 1957. Moore and Fontana also reunited on the 1960 Timex TV special with Frank Sinatra welcoming Elvis’s return from the Army. Scotty Moore played on many of Presley’s most famous recordings, including “That’s All Right”, “Good Rockin’ Tonight”, “Milk Cow Blues Boogie”, “Baby Let’s Play House”, “Heartbreak Hotel”, “Mystery Train”, “Blue Suede Shoes”, “Hound Dog”, “Too Much”, “Jailhouse Rock” and “Hard Headed Woman”. Moore and the Blue Moon Boys also perform (and have additional small walk-on and speaking roles) with Elvis in four of his movies (Loving You, Jailhouse Rock, King Creole and G.I. Blues) filmed in 1957, 1958 and 1960.
Early in 1958, when Elvis was drafted, Scotty Moore began working at Fernwood Records and produced a hit record called “Tragedy” for Thomas Wayne Perkins—brother of Johnny Cash guitarist Luther Perkins. In 1960, Moore commenced recording sessions with Elvis at RCA, and also served as production manager at Sam Phillips Recording Service, which involved supervising all aspects of studio operation. Moore played on such Presley songs as “Fame And Fortune”, “Such A Night”, “Frankfort Special”, “Surrender”, “I Feel So Bad”, “Rock-A-Hula Baby”, “Kiss Me Quick”, “Good Luck Charm”, “She’s Not You”, “(You’re The) Devil in Disguise” and “Bossa Nova Baby”. In 1964, Moore released a solo album on Epic Records called The Guitar That Changed the World, played using his Gibson Super 400. For this effort he was fired by Sam Phillips. Moore reunited with Fontana and Presley for the NBC television special known as the ’68 Comeback Special, again with his Gibson Super 400 which was also played by Presley. Moore died on June 28, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 84.
- December, 27, 1931
- Gadsden, Tennessee
- June, 28, 2016
- Nashville, Tennessee