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Music

'Co-founder of rock and roll': Elvis' first guitarist Scotty Moore dies, aged 84

He helped shaped Elvis Presley's revolutionary rock sound and went on to play with greats like Bruce Springsteen. Guitarist Scotty Moore has passed away in Memphis - where his and Elvis' careers began.

"As a musician, I consider him one of the co-founders of rock and roll because of the guitar licks that he invented," said James L. Dickerson, who was both Scotty Moore's friend and biographer.

Dickerson confirmed that Moore had passed away Tuesday (28.06.2016) at his home in Memphis, Tennessee.

In 1954, a music producer first brought Moore, a local session musician, and the then unknown Elvis Presley together in his Sun Records recording studio in Memphis. Together with bassist Bill Black, they recorded the blues song, "That's All Right."

The chemistry between the trio was perfect, with Moore's "guitar licks" complementing Presley's strumming rhythms, and the trio went on to perform numerous major hits, including "Heartbreak Hotel," "Don't Be Cruel," "Jailhouse Rock," and "Hound Dog."

It was their blend of blues, gospel and country music that became known as rock and roll - and the trio's trademark. As Elvis rose from regional fame to national stardom, Moore accompanied the hip-shaking heartthrob on tour and also appeared in some of his films.

'Elvis loved Scotty dearly'

Priscilla Presley, Elvis' ex-wife, said in a statement Tuesday, "Elvis loved Scotty dearly and treasured those amazing years together, both in the studio and on the road. Scotty was an amazing musician and a legend in his own right. The incredible music that Scotty and Elvis made together will live forever and influence generations to come."

However, their friendship was dampened in the late 50s by what Moore referred to as "Elvis economics." In Dickerson's 1997 biography of Moore, entitled "That's Alright, Elvis," he pointed out that Presley had become a millionaire, while his guitarist had earned slightly more than $8,000 in 1956.

Moore and Presley went their separate ways in the late 50s, though they teamed up again in 1968 for a television "comeback" special.

Moore went on to play with a wide array of top artists, including Bruce Springsteen, Keith Richards, George Harrison, Chris Isaak, Jeff Beck, Ringo Starr and Dolly Parton, among others.

"Everyone else wanted to be like Elvis, but I wanted to be Scotty," Richards told Dickerson.

Born in 1931 in Gadsden, Tennessee, Moore was a World War II Navy veteran. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.

kbm/eg (AP, dpa)

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