Scotty Moore, the influential rock guitarist around for the height of Elvis Presley’s career, died Tuesday at his Nashville, Tennessee home, according to The New York Times. He was 84.
Moore provided lead guitar work on a number of Presley’s signature songs through the ’50s and the ’60s, including “Jailhouse Rock,” “Hound Dog,” and “Blue Suede Shoes.” He linked up with Presley and bassist Bill Black to form The Blue Moon Boys in 1954, which endured until 1968.
“We lost one of the finest people I have ever met today. I was lucky to call you a friend and I’m very glad I got to see you just a few days ago,” Phillips Recording Service engineer Matt Ross-Spang wrote on Instagram, captioning a picture with him and Moore. “The guitarist that changed the world… especially mine; I hope you don’t mind if I keep stealing your licks. Love you Scotty.”
Born Dec. 27, 1931 on a farm just outside Humboldt, Tennessee, Winfield Scott Moore III was the youngest of four boys. He began learning guitar at the age of 8, according to his website. Moore enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1948 at only 16 years old and served in Korea and China before his 1952 discharge.
Moore’s first major foray into the music business was joining forces with Black in the band The Starlite Wranglers for Sam Phillips’ Sun Records in 1954. Later that year, Presley auditioned and joined forces with Moore and Black, beginning a fruitful 14-year working relationship. His work with Presley affected and molded a new wave of musicians.
“Everyone else wanted to be Elvis,” Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards once said. “I wanted to be Scotty.”
After working with Presley, Moore often worked as a freelance studio engineer. He helped the likes of Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Ringo Starr on albums and TV specials.
Moore earned recognition as an all-time “sideman” by his 2000 induction into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Memphis Music Hall of Fame added Moore to its ranks last October. Due to Moore’s health, Richards accepted the honor in his place.
“I think without Scotty, I wouldn’t be here,” he said. “I don’t know how many people would be either. He was such an inspiration.”
Moore is survived by his five children — Donald, Linda, Andrea, Vikki Hein, and Tasha — and several grandchildren.