In 1970, Elvis was truly op top of his game. He’d just done a fantastic comeback in Las Vegas a few months earlier, and he was now ready to conquer the world.
In late January he returned to Las Vegas, and once again he blew everybody away. And then, following this highly successful Vegas engagement, he performed six sensational concerts at the Houston Astrodome for more than 300,000 fans. His drummer at all of these shows – 63 in all – was 22-year old Bob Lanning.
It’s Bob Lanning that you can hear on classic Presley recordings like ‘The Wonder of You’, ‘Polk Salad Annie’ and ‘Walk A Mile In My Shoes’, and on albums like ‘On Stage – February 1970’, FTD releases like ‘Polk Salad Annie’ and ‘The On Stage Season’, as well as imports like the ‘Rebooked At The International’ box-set. At the time, Bob got the job because Elvis loved his style of drumming right from the get-go. They were supposed to audition 9 drummers, but the moment Elvis heard No. 3 play -- Bob Lanning -- Elvis immediately said: “Looks like we got our drummer!”. Lanning has a real kick-ass type of rock ‘n’ roll drumming that gives the even slower songs an extra edge, and he cites Earl Palmer (Little Richard’s studio drummer) as his main influence. While Elvis was rocking up a storm center stage, Bob Lanning was right behind him, playing with more bite than a pack of angry Rottweilers!
In recent years, various researchers have tried to locate Bob Lanning, but so far none succeeded. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that Bob lives a quiet life these days, away from some of the modern technology that many of us take for granted. He prefers to go biking for 2 hours daily, and he also plays the drums for several hours every single day. Needless to say that he is in terrific shape. Arjan Deelen, producer of the ‘An Evening with Elvis’ Friends and Original Musicians’ tours, was able to locate Bob and struck a deal with him for an exclusive tour in May 2015. This is going to be rather special, because this tour will mark the first time since 1970 that Bob will be playing Elvis’ music. For the first time, you will be able to hear songs like ‘Polk Salad Annie’, ‘The Wonder Of You’, ‘Walk A Mile In My Shoes’ and many others as played by the drummer that you can hear on the original Elvis versions. No doubt it will be bittersweet for Bob in some ways, because the last time that he played these songs was with Elvis. If you want more information about this remarkable tour (which also includes a.o. bassplayer Duke Bardwell), or are interested in booking the show, then please contact Arjan at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Below you can hear a short clip of Elvis introducing Bob Lanning at the January 26, 1970 Opening Show in Las Vegas. A couple of days ago, Bob heard this recording for the first time since these words were originally uttered by Elvis, and he was positively thrilled. Interestingly, Elvis also mentions Bob’s mother, singer Roberta Sherwood:
Photo credit: Elvis introduces drummer Bob Lanning - Friday, February 27, 1970 ES, Astrodome, Houston, Texas.