D.J. Fontana

Portrait
Born: Mar 15, 1931 AD
Currently alive, at 83 years of age.

Nationality: American
Categories: Drummer


1931 - Born -March 15, - Shreveport, Louisiana

 

1940's - he first earned notice drumming behind T. Tommy Cutrer, a radio personality with Shreveport station KCIJ who moonlighted as a country singer.

 

1953 - was named the house drummer of The Louisiana Hayride, the legendary radio showcase broadcast each Saturday evening from Shreveport's Municipal Auditorium. So not to offend country purists, he was forced to perform from behind the stage curtain.

 

1954 - Fontana remained out of sight on October 16, when he backed Presley, Scotty (Lead Guitar), and Bill (Bass Guitar) during their first Hayride appearance. Fontana was the first drummer ever to back Presley on-stage, steadfastly avoiding his cymbals and playing only the backbeat in order to best complement the music.

 

1955 - Although audience response was mixed, Hayride producers invited Presley for a return engagement the following month. This time Fontana performed in front of the curtain, and when Presley's stage gyrations sent the mostly young, mostly female crowd into screaming fits, the singer was offered a 12-month contract with the program. At the end of their Louisiana Hayride tenure in November 1955, Scotty and Bill convinced Presley to add Fontana to the lineup full-time, and after the RCA label acquired the singer's recording contract from Sun Records.

 

1956 - Fontana cut his first studio session on January 10, backing Presley on five songs, including his million-selling breakthrough hit, "Heartbreak Hotel." Fontana's résumé is remarkable by any standard: he remained with Elvis for 14 years, playing on more than 400 songs and close to 50 recording sessions across a 12-year span, among them landmark hits including "Hound Dog," "Don't Be Cruel," and "Jailhouse Rock."  

 

1958 - Although Scotty and Bill (Bass Player) walked out on Presley in 1958 in response to a royalty dispute with manager Colonel Tom Parker, Fontana remained with the organization. Moore eventually returned to the fold occasionally. 

 

1968 - Moore and Fontana also backed Presley during his legendary NBC television comeback special, effectively serving as a security blanket against the singer's apprehensions about returning to lean, mean rock & roll following so many years of bloated Hollywood pap.

 

1969 - Fontana finally cut ties with Presley once and for all. He, Moore, and longtime backing vocalists the Jordanaires balked at Parker's latest salary offer, and when the Colonel called their bluff, quickly assembling a new backing crew, it was all over. Fontana settled in Nashville to pursue a session career.

 

        -in the years to follow he played on records headlined by Paul McCartney, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and Waylon Jennings.

 

1983 - Fontana published his memoirs, D.J. Fontana Remembers Elvis,

 

1997 - the 20th anniversary of Presley's death -- he and Moore reunited for All the King's Men, a Grammy-winning collection featuring cameos by the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards, fellow guitar great Jeff Beck, and members of the Band.

 

 

             -D.J. Fontana's pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

 

 

 2007 - DJ Fontana's Life and Times weekly phonecast on July 03, debuted.

 

Page last updated: 1:44pm, 17th Aug '07
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