The Untold Story of Elvis's First Guitarist and Manager, Scotty Moore
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 The sad trajectory of Elvis Presley's life is a familiar story, but this memoir does shed a little new light on the early years. Though Moore is a distinguished guitar innovator and recording engineer, any general interest in his career lies in the 14 years he spent touring with Elvis. It all began back in Memphis in 1954, when Scotty and bassist Bill Black were casting around for a singer to front their unnamed band. A friend introduced them to the teenage Elvis, then unknown. They rehearsed a few times, then recorded more rehearsals at Sun Studios. These sessions produced a single with ``That's All Right, Mama'' on the A-side, ``Blue Moon of Kentucky'' on the B, and the rest is history. Moore and Black crisscrossed the South, touring with Elvis, but as his popularity soared, they were increasingly reduced to mere sidemen. Elvis promised them a percentage of record royalties, then broke his word. Moore and Black were left with salaries so meager they often couldn't cover living expenses. (Over the 14 years Scotty intermittently played with Elvis, he earned less than $31,000.) Eventually, they parted company. Disillusioned, Moore largely gave up the guitar and threw himself into studio work, mainly engineering. Musicologists may debate how revolutionary Elvis's early music really was, but a substantial component of that sound was Scotty's innovative (and self-taught) guitar stylings: ``His idea of using his guitar to provide counterpoint to the vocalist was a radical concept in popular recording at that time,'' asserts Dickerson. ``Scotty,'' a Nashville producer notes, ``was the whole deal. He made it all work.'' Though Dickerson (Goin' Back to Memphis, not reviewed) is not quite such an innovative collaborator, he turns in a competent performance with the slender material at hand. Scotty's real monument is not this book, but his music. (65 b&w illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-02-864599-5
Page count: 288pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1997


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