RCA Gold and Platinum Presentation
On September 23, 1997 Scotty Moore, D. J. Fontana, and the family of
Bill Black all received belated gold and platinum albums from RCA
Records for their work on Elvis Presley's initial recordings. John
Fogerty and Sun Records founder Sam Phillips attended the Hard Rock Cafe
celebration, and both men gave heartfelt speeches about the trio's
talents and the contributions they made. Plenty was said about how
Moore, Black, and Fontana never received the rightful credit they
deserved for helping to create the music that made Presley so renowned.
The gold-record presentation was a move in the right direction, as
Phillips put it, "to recognizing how important these men were to
the music we love."
John Fogerty, Sam Phillips, D.J. Fontana and Scotty
Moore and Black, along with producer Phillips, have been credited
with helping Presley come up with a fresh, energetic sound that combined
blues, country, and bluegrass into something that fully expressed the
young singer's unusual talents. Phillips has often cited Moore's
quick-fingered playing and his broad knowledge of styles as an integral
part of The King's groundbreaking first recording session; the same can
be said for Black's aggressive rhythm playing on the standup bass.
Fontana, Presley's first drummer, joined the band after The King started
recording for RCA Records.
Sonny Burgess, Harold Bradley, Scotty, James Burton and
Fogerty, who often has cited the influence of the Sun recordings on
his own music, called the opportunity to present the gold records to his
heroes as "the high point of my life, except for my marriage....
It's an awesome thing to say they were at ground zero" when rock
'n' roll was being invented. Fogerty went on to explain that it took him
years to figure out how Moore created certain guitar licks. He also
smilingly apologized to the guitarist for lifting one of his licks for
the primary riff in "Bad Moon Rising."
The plaque hangs in Scotty's home studio
Phillips, in a colorful and rambling speech, explained how Moore and
Black hung with Presley in the studio, each prodding the other to create
something wilder and more exciting. The producer of dozens of classic
performances, including landmark songs by Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash,
and Howlin' Wolf, Phillips said the early Presley recordings were
"the most fun I've ever had in the studio"; he said he'd feel
that way even if they hadn't become so celebrated.
This recognition comes hand-in-hand with the release of All
the King's Men, which features Moore and Fontana backing a
variety of all-star talent. Unlike most albums of this ilk, it's a
consistently solid affair, perhaps because the two musicians perform on
every song. The contributing musicians include Keith Richards and
Wood of the Stones, Jeff Beck, The Band, Cheap Trick, The Mavericks,
Steve Earle, Joe Ely, Tracy Nelson, Joe Louis Walker, the Bodeans, and
Ronnie McDowell; in a smart move, they all perform original material
rather than trying to recapture the magic of Presley's early recordings.
To hear Cheap Trick's Robin Zander rip through his "Bad Little
Girl" personifies the excitement of '50s rock 'n' roll--and it's
much more interesting than hearing a warmed-over version of a previously
recorded classic. Fontana's and Moore's handprints are evident
throughout in the simple, propulsive rhythms and the spare, smart guitar
by Michael McCall
October 27, 1997