Elvis' Original Backup Band Reunites

NEW ORLEANS - All the King's men are back - absent Elvis. Elvis' longtime musicians got together in a down-home bowling alley/music hall this week as part of the Ponderosa Stomp, a fringe festival that has sprung up around the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. It was a who's who of the guys who backed Elvis Presley throughout his turbulent and revolutionary career from the gig circuit in Memphis in 1950s to worldwide fame. Wednesday night, the King's guitar players Scotty Moore and James Burton - legends in their own right - and longtime Elvis drummer D.J. Fontana played Elvis classics, assisted by Paul Burlison, Kim Curtis and others. Standing in on vocals for the ducktailed boy from Tupelo was Big Sandy, a Southern California singer whose Fly-Rite Boys travel the country in a yellow school bus playing rockabilly, Western swing and mariachi classics. It was the closest that 700 mortals, packed into the Mid-City Bowling Lanes, a music hall known as Rock 'N' Bowl, could get to witnessing the smoldering volcano of rock's revolution. "If someone had told me that tonight, or anytime, that I would end up with Elvis' guitar players and drummer on stage, I wouldn't have believed it in a million years," said Big Sandy, who was asked out of the blue to accompany the aging legends on vocals. "In a way it's like a family reunion," said Moore, 71, who has also been a successful music producer in Nashville. In the summer of 1954, Moore met Elvis, an aspiring singer, and the two unknowingly changed the course of music history when they and bassist Bill Black recorded Elvis' first hit, the blues song "That's All Right Mama," in the studio of Sun records in Memphis. "He's as popular being dead 25 years as he was when he was alive. Explain that to me?" Moore said. "I go to Europe and in the autograph lines there are grandparents, people my age, with their grandchildren, and they'll have an Elvis record under their arm wanting to be signed," Moore said. Moore was recently inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame and he has a Gibson guitar named after him, modeled after the original ES-295 that he played in the old days.
Source: Associated Press / Updated: May 3, 2003 
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