Saturday, July 2, 2016

Scotty Moore (December, 1931 – June, 2016)

The passing of original Elvis Presley guitarist Scotty Moore this week, despite living to the ripe old age of 84, nevertheless sent shockwaves across the rock ‘n’ roll community already still mourning the deaths of several of its heroes this year.

The loss of Moore, who continued to produce, record and perform right up until before he fell ill with symptoms not exactly revealed at press time, sent a special kind of jolt through the hearts of music fans the world over, because his guitar playing has served as one of the key building blocks of the modern rock infrastructure since that fateful day after the Fourth of July in 1954 when he cut his first session with Elvis at Sun Records with producer Sam Phillips.

The King may have given rock music its swagger in the mid-’50s, but Moore gave the young genre its sense of danger with his sharp, piercing variation of the Chet Atkins style that influenced him on such priceless early Presley cuts as “That’s All Right”, “Mystery Train”, “Long Tall Sally” and that indelible walking riff on “Jailhouse Rock”.

Elvis and his swinging hips might have made millions of teenage girls swoon in the ’50s, but just as many fell in love with the pure rawness and simplicity of Moore’s guitar playing, including some of the most renowned guitar players of the last 60 years: Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, George Harrison, Ron Wood, Rick Nielsen, Mark Knopfler, Alvin Lee, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Ramone, the list goes on forever.

“All I wanted to do in the world was to be able to play and sound like that,” Richards once famously stated. “Everyone else wanted to be Elvis; I wanted to be Scotty.”

Listen to the reckless abandon he uses to back Presley in his second performance at the Louisiana Hayride on August 20, 1955, and you will clearly recognize what Keef and countless others heard on the outset, that unbridled purity that made Moore’s tiny little amp sound like Neil Young’s great wall of Fenders. The strings on his Gibson ES-295 were lightning in a bottle, the spark that ignited the biggest youth movement in American history.

by Ron Hart, Observer Culture |  Read more:
Image: Scotty Moore