D.J. Fontana

~ Person

Wikipedia

Dominic Joseph Fontana (born March 15, 1931, in Shreveport, Louisiana), is an American musician best known as the drummer for Elvis Presley for 14 years. He played on over 460 RCA cuts with Elvis.

Nicknamed "D. J.", he was employed by the Louisiana Hayride to be an in-house drummer on its Saturday night radio broadcast. In October 1954 he was hired to play drums for Presley, and that marked the beginning of a fifteen-year relationship. He performed on the NBC television special known as the '68 Comeback Special.

Fontana, joined a band (originally assembled by Sam Phillips without a drummer) consisting of Scotty Moore (lead guitar), Bill Black (bass) and Elvis Presley (rhythm guitar), calling themselves "The Blue Moon Boys". The band became the band that would perform and record the vast majority of the Elvis Presley hits of the 50's (some also including piano and backing vocals from the Jordanaires) including "Heartbreak Hotel", "Hound Dog", "Don't Be Cruel", and "Jailhouse Rock". The band also toured extensively and performed on several television appearances including The Ed Sullivan Show through 1956 and 1957.

I learned the value of simplicity at the Hayride. I heard Scotty and Bill and Elvis one night and knew that I couldn't mess up that sound. That's why I always play what I feel. If that won't work, I just won't do it again. I think the simple approach comes from my hearing so much big band music. I mixed it with rockabilly.

The band officially broke up in 1958 although Fontana and Elvis still played and recorded together regularly throughout the 1960s. Moore would sometimes join them. Moore and Fontana have also performed together, including a 2002 recording of "That's All Right (Mama) with Paul McCartney. After 1958, Black never played with the band again; he died in 1965.

In 1983 he published a book in pictorial form titled "D. J. Fontana Remembers Elvis" about his years playing with Presley.

Fontana's Life and Times weekly phonecasting debuted on July 3, 2007.

Fontana's pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in Cleveland on January 14, 2009.

On April 4, 2009, Fontana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the sidemen category.

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Discography

Album

Year Title Artist Rating Releases
1997 All the King's Men Scotty Moore & D.J. Fontana 2

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