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Presley drummer D.J. Fontana passes away

Thursday, June 14, 2018 – D.J. Fontana, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer who played on more than 460 Elvis Presley recordings, passed away on Thursday at 87 in Nashville.

Fontana started playing for Presley in October 1954 and was with him through is comeback special in 1968.

Fontana was employed by the Louisiana Hayride to be an in-house drummer on its Saturday night radio broadcast. Presley played at the Hayride with a band that included Scotty Moore on lead guitar and Bill Black on bass, but no drummer until Fontana stepped in. The Blue Moon Boys thus were formed with Black, Moore and Fontana.

The group split in 1958, but Fontana and Presley still played and recorded together throughout the 1960s. Presley who had been active for a number of years after his return from the Army launched a widely successful NBC television comeback special.

Fontana eventually left Presley after the bands grew larger and larger. Fontana became an in-demand session player. He recorded with artists including Dolly Parton and Steve Earle. Moore and Fontana performed together without Presley, including a 2002 recording of "That's All Right (Mama) along with Paul McCartney.

Fontana was inducted into the Rock and Hall of Fame in 2009 in the sideman category.

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