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D. J. Fontana
Fontana in 2012
|Birth name||Dominic Joseph Fontana|
|Born||March 15, 1931|
Shreveport, Louisiana, U.S.
|Died||June 13, 2018 (aged 87)|
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
|Genres||Rock and roll|
|Labels||Sun, RCA Victor|
|Associated acts||The Blue Moon Boys, Elvis Presley|
Dominic Joseph Fontana (March 15, 1931 – June 13, 2018) was an American musician best known as the drummer for Elvis Presley for 14 years. In October 1954 he was hired to play drums for Presley, which marked the beginning of a fifteen-year relationship. He played on over 460 RCA cuts with Elvis.
Nicknamed "D.J.", Fontana was employed by the Louisiana Hayride to be an in-house drummer on its Saturday night radio broadcast.
Fontana joined a band (originally assembled by Sam Phillips) that was without a drummer. The band included Scotty Moore (lead guitar), Bill Black (bass), and Elvis Presley (rhythm guitar). They called themselves The Blue Moon Boys. This became the band that would perform and record the vast majority of Presley's hits of the 1950s. Along with the occasional piano and backing vocals from the Jordanaires, The Blue Moon Boys played on several Elvis hits, including "Heartbreak Hotel", "Hound Dog", "Don't Be Cruel", and "Jailhouse Rock". The band toured extensively. Throughout 1956 and 1957, the band had several television appearances, which included The Ed Sullivan Show. The band broke up in 1958 and Black never played with Fontana or Presley again afterward. He died in 1965. Although the band had officially broken up, Fontana and Elvis still regularly played and recorded together throughout the 1960s. Moore would sometimes join them. In 1968, Fontana performed on the NBC television special, often referred to as Elvis' 'Comeback' Special.
Stan Lynch said of Fontana: "Armed with accuracy, power, swing, dynamics, great time and — the biggest compliment of all — simplicity whenever it was best, D.J. rocked the greatest singer and the greatest songs ... ever. He did it year after year, record after classic record. In a world of one trick ponies and lucky "Rock Stars," D.J. is the real deal."
— D.J. Fontana
In 1983, Fontana published a book in pictorial form, titled D.J. Fontana Remembers Elvis, detailing his years playing with Presley. Fontana's Life and Times weekly phonecasting debuted on July 3, 2007.
D. J. Fontana was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame on January 14, 2009, and on April 4, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in the "sidemen" category. English musician Wayne Fontana (born Glyn Geoffrey Ellis) took his stage name from the drummer.
|Oral History, DJ Fontana shares early moments of his life story. NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Oral History Library|