Elvis' drummer, last survivor of his band, dead at 87
NEW YORK - AFP
His son David Fontana wrote on Facebook that his father died peacefully in his sleep Wednesday evening.
An inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Dominic Joseph Fontana introduced drums to the concoction that became rock 'n' roll at a time that popular singers often eschewed percussion entirely.
Fontana was a drummer for a radio program in his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana when Presley, then performing primarily for country audiences, came in 1954 after performing on the rival, more established show of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.
"It worked but I'd gotten to thinking it was such a unique sound they had, why clutter it up with drums and noise?" Fontana told The Washington Post in 1986.
"So I just kind of laid back and stayed out of their way. I think that's why I got the job," he said. "I just stay out of their way."
Fontana was signed to Presley's band, dubbed The Blue Moon Boys, supplying the heavy, high-energy beats that came to characterize rock 'n' roll on The King's early hits such as "Jailhouse Rock" and "Hound Dog."
But he also knew his place in his band, allowing Elvis, and his pelvis, to dominate the show as he pounded away in the back during almost nightly shows.