The legendary guitarist who helped make those early Elvis Sun records such distinctive classics died yesterday at the age of 84.
He was never much of a showman - but then why even try when you have Elvis up front? Hound Dog, from 1956:
If you're wondering where the Jordanaires are, with all those oohs and aahs, well, it's the recorded version you're actually listening too. But Scotty's guitar fits pretty well with what you see.
That's All Right, of course, was the first: just Elvis, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black on double bass.
A stylist who was always modest about his achievements:
Moore is given credit as a pioneer rock 'n' roll lead guitarist, though he characteristically downplayed his own innovative role in the development of the style. "It had been there for quite a while", recalled Moore. "Carl Perkins was doing basically the same sort of thing up around Jackson, and I know for a fact Jerry Lee Lewis had been playing that kind of music ever since he was ten years old." Paul Friedlander describes the defining elements of rockabilly, which he similarly characterizes as "essentially ... an Elvis Presley construction": "the raw, emotive, and slurred vocal style and emphasis on rhythmic feeling [of] the blues with the string band and strummed rhythm guitar [of] country". In "That's All Right", the Presley trio's first record, Scotty Moore's guitar solo, "a combination of Merle Travis–style country finger-picking, double-stop slides from acoustic boogie, and blues-based bent-note, single-string work, is a microcosm of this fusion."
Many popular guitarists cite Moore as the performer that brought the lead guitarist to a dominant role in a rock 'n' roll band. Although some lead guitarists/vocalists, such as Chuck Berry and blues legend BB King, had gained popularity by the 1950s, Presley rarely played his own lead while performing, instead providing rhythm guitar and leaving the lead duties to Moore. As a guitarist, Moore was a noticeable presence in Presley's performances, despite his introverted demeanor. He became an inspiration to many subsequent popular guitarists, including Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Page, and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. While Moore was working on his memoir with co-author James L. Dickerson, Richards told Dickerson, "Everyone else wanted to be Elvis—I wanted to be Scotty. Richards has stated many times (Rolling Stone magazine, Life autobiography) that he could never figure out how to play the "stop time" break and figure that Moore plays on "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone" (Sun), and that he hopes it will remain a mystery.
Here it is: I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone. Though Blue Moon of Kentucky and Mystery Train - the A side, with I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone the B side on the original Sun single - are, frankly, the better songs.
Here's an older Scotty performing Mystery Train with Eric Clapton.