Scotty Moore, the pioneering rock-and-roll guitarist who backed Elvis Presley on his early hits, died Tuesday at the age of 84 at his home in Nashville, Tennessee.
Moore was playing in a local country-western band in Memphis, Tennessee in July, 1954 when Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records, asked him to work with the 19-year-old Presley. The next day, Presley and Moore, along with Moore's bandmate, bassist Bill Black, recorded over a dozen songs, including "That's All Right," that merged Presley's raw mixture of gospel and blues vocals with Moore's blues, jazz and country-influenced solos.
The release of "That's All Right" soon caught fire among audiences in the southern United States and launched Presley on the road to rock-and-roll superstardom. Moore, Black and drummer D.J. Fontana would go on to record hundreds of other rock-and roll songs with Presley in the 1950s, including classics like "Heartbreak Hotel," "Don't Be Cruel," and "Hound Dog."
Moore's innovative playing would go on to inspire later generations of rock musicians, including Rolling Stones' guitarist Keith Richards, who later remarked "Everyone wanted to be Elvis. I wanted to be Scotty."
After ending his partnership with Presley when the singer was drafted into the Army in 1958, Moore founded a record label, Fernwood Records, that released a hit single "Tragedy," by singer Thomas Wayne in 1959. He teamed up with Presley one last time in 1968 for a television special that revived the singer's career. Moore continued his music career as a recording studio manager and engineer.