D. J. Fontana

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Dominic Joseph Fontana
Birth name Dominic Joseph Fontana
Born (1931-03-15) March 15, 1931 (age 83)
Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
Genres Rock and roll
Occupations Drummer
Labels Sun, RCA
Associated acts The Blue Moon Boys, Elvis Presley

Dominic Joseph Fontana (born March 15, 1931, in Shreveport, Louisiana), is an American musician best known as the drummer for Elvis Presley for 14 years. He played on over 460 RCA cuts with Elvis.

Nicknamed "D. J.", he was employed by the Louisiana Hayride to be an in-house drummer on its Saturday night radio broadcast. In October 1954 he was hired to play drums for Presley, and that marked the beginning of a fifteen-year relationship. He performed on the NBC television special known as the '68 Comeback Special.

Fontana joined a band (originally assembled by Sam Phillips without a drummer) consisting of Scotty Moore (lead guitar), Bill Black (bass) and Elvis Presley (rhythm guitar), calling themselves "The Blue Moon Boys". The band became the band that would perform and record the vast majority of the Elvis Presley hits of the 1950s (some also including piano and backing vocals from the Jordanaires) including "Heartbreak Hotel", "Hound Dog", "Don't Be Cruel", and "Jailhouse Rock". The band also toured extensively and performed on several television appearances including the Ed Sullivan Show through 1956 and 1957.

I learned the value of simplicity at the Hayride. I heard Scotty and Bill and Elvis one night and knew that I couldn't mess up that sound. That's why I always play what I feel. If that won't work, I just won't do it again. I think the simple approach comes from my hearing so much big band music. I mixed it with rockabilly.[1]

External video
Oral History, DJ Fontana shares early moments of his life story. NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Oral History Library

The band officially broke up in 1958 although Fontana and Elvis still played and recorded together regularly throughout the 1960s. Moore would sometimes join them. Moore and Fontana have also performed together, including a 2002 recording of "That's All Right (Mama) with Paul McCartney. After 1958, Black never played with the band again; he died in 1965.

In 1983 he published a book in pictorial form titled "D. J. Fontana Remembers Elvis" about his years playing with Presley.

Fontana's Life and Times weekly phonecasting debuted on July 3, 2007.

Fontana's pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in Cleveland on January 14, 2009.

On April 4, 2009, Fontana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the sidemen category.[2]

Appearances[edit]

  • May 14, 2011, 3 p.m. - Fontana played drums at the Hippodrome Performing Arts Center in Baltimore Maryland during the Elvis tribute show 'Heart of the King'
  • January 7, 2007, 7 p.m. - Fontana played drums in honor of Elvis Presley's birthday at the Cleveland Square Play House in Cuyahoga County in Cleveland Ohio.
  • October 25, 2008, 5 p.m. - Fontana played drums for the first time in Quebec City, Canada with Carl Brandon and the Remember Elvis Band, at the Centre Jacques Duval, in front of an audience of 400 spectators. It was also the 400th anniversary of Quebec City. He have also made several tours in Sweden with The Cadillac band and Swedish famous singer Svenne Hedlund. D.J. made regular appearances at The Rockabilly Hall of Fame in Jackson, Tennessee where he played with such artists as Paul Burlison, The Evolutionary Tree Incident and led, along with W.S. Holland, the largest gathering of drummers at one time ever assembled together to simultaneously play a song. January, 2014 DJ still tours with Elvis Tribute Artist Shawn Klush performing in many US cities; January 9, 10, & 11 - Skokie, IL, Naperville, IL, and Merrillville, IN.

Portrayals[edit]

Fontana has been portrayed by Ed Begley, Jr. in the film Elvis (1979). And by Eric William Pierson in the CBS mini-series Elvis (2005).

Recordings[edit]

  • Heartbreak Hotel/I Was the One, 2x Platinum
  • Blue Suede Shoes/Tutti Frutti, Gold
  • I Want You, I Need You, I Love You/My Baby Left Me, Platinum
  • Hound Dog/Don't Be Cruel 4X Platinum
  • Love Me Tender/Any Way You Want Me, 3X Platinum
  • Too Much/Playing for Keeps, Platinum
  • All Shook Up/That's When Your Heartaches Begin, 2X Platinum
  • (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear/Loving You, 2x Platinum
  • Jailhouse Rock/Treat Me Nice, 2X Platinum
  • Don't/I Beg of You, Platinum
  • Wear My Ring Around Your Neck/Doncha' Think It's Time, Platinum
  • Hard Headed Woman/Don't Ask Me Why, Platinum
  • I Got Stung/One Night, Platinum
  • (Now and Then There's) A Fool Such as I/I Need Your Love Tonight, Platinum
  • A Big Hunk o' Love/My Wish Came True, Gold
  • Stuck on You/Fame and Fortune, Platinum
  • It's Now or Never/A Mess of Blues, Platinum
  • Are You Lonesome Tonight/I Gotta Know, 2X Platinum
  • Surrender/Lonely Man, Platinum
  • I Feel So Bad/Wild in the Country, Gold
  • (Marie's the Name) His Latest Flame/Little Sister, Gold
  • Can't Help Falling in Love/Rock-a-Hula Baby, Platinum
  • Good Luck Charm/Anything That's Part of You, Platinum
  • She's Not You/Just Tell Her Jim Said Hello, Gold
  • Return to Sender/Where Do You Come From, Platinum
  • One Broken Heart For Sale/They Remind Me Too Much of You, Gold
  • (You're the) Devil in Disguise/Please Don't Drag That String Around, Gold
  • Bossa Nova Baby/Witchcraft, Gold
  • Kissin' Cousins/It Hurts Me, Gold
  • Viva Las Vegas/What'd I Say, Gold
  • Ain't That Loving You, Baby/Ask Me, Gold
  • Crying in the Chapel/I Believe in the Man in the Sky, Platinum
  • I'm Yours/Long Lonely Highway, Gold
  • Puppet on a String/Wooden Heart, Gold
  • Blue Christmas/Santa Claus Is Back in Town, Platinum
  • Tell Me Why/ Blue River, Gold
  • Frankie and Johnny/Please Don't Stop Loving Me, Gold

References[edit]

  1. ^ Go Cat Go! Craig Morrison. 1996. University of Illinois Press. page 117. ISBN 0-252-02207-6
  2. ^ "DJ Fontana". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 

External links[edit]