D.J. Fontana
D.J. Fontana

D. J. Fontana
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

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D. J. Fontana Fontana in 2012Background informationBirth name Dominic Joseph FontanaBorn (1931-03-15)March 15, 1931
Shreveport, Louisiana, U.S.Died June 13, 2018(2018-06-13) (aged 87)
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.Genres Rock and rollOccupation(s) DrummerLabels Sun, RCA VictorAssociated 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.

Contents Career

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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[2]

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."[3]

Moore and Fontana also performed together without Presley, including a 2001 recording of "That's All Right (Mama) along with Paul McCartney.[1]

Other work .mw-parser-output .quotebox{background-color:#F9F9F9;border:1px solid #aaa;box-sizing:border-box;padding:10px;font-size:88%}.mw-parser-output .quotebox.floatleft{margin:0.5em 1.4em 0.8em 0}.mw-parser-output .quotebox.floatright{margin:0.5em 0 0.8em 1.4em}.mw-parser-output .quotebox.centered{margin:0.5em auto 0.8em auto}.mw-parser-output .quotebox.floatleft p,.mw-parser-output .quotebox.floatright p{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output .quotebox-title{background-color:#F9F9F9;text-align:center;font-size:larger;font-weight:bold}.mw-parser-output .quotebox-quote.quoted:before{font-family:"Times New Roman",serif;font-weight:bold;font-size:large;color:gray;content:" “ ";vertical-align:-45%;line-height:0}.mw-parser-output .quotebox-quote.quoted:after{font-family:"Times New Roman",serif;font-weight:bold;font-size:large;color:gray;content:" ” ";line-height:0}.mw-parser-output .quotebox .left-aligned{text-align:left}.mw-parser-output .quotebox .right-aligned{text-align:right}.mw-parser-output .quotebox .center-aligned{text-align:center}.mw-parser-output .quotebox cite{display:block;font-style:normal}@media screen and (max-width:360px){.mw-parser-output .quotebox{min-width:100%;margin:0 0 0.8em!important;float:none!important}} 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.

— D.J. Fontana[4]

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.[5] English musician Wayne Fontana (born Glyn Geoffrey Ellis) took his stage name from the drummer.

Fontana was played by Ed Begley, Jr. in the 1979 motion picture Elvis, and by Eric William Pierson in the 2005 CBS miniseries Elvis.[6]


Fontana died on June 13, 2018 in Nashville at the age of 87.[7] At the time of his death, he was suffering from complications of a broken hip.[8]

Recordings References
  1. ^ a b "D.J. Fontana, 87, Elvis Presley’s Longtime Drummer, Is Dead". The New York Times. June 14, 2018. Retrieved on June 17, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "D.J. Fontana has Died". Elvis Australia. June 15, 2018. Retrieved on June 17, 2018
  3. ^ D.J. Fontana. Drummerworld online
  4. ^ Go Cat Go! Craig Morrison. 1996. University of Illinois Press. page 117. ISBN 0-252-02207-6
  5. ^ "DJ Fontana". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  6. ^ Melissa U. D. Goldsmith; et al. (2016). The Encyclopedia of Musicians and Bands on Film. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 418-9. ISBN 1442269863. CS1 maint: Explicit use of et al. (link)
  7. ^ "D.J. Fontana, Elvis Presley's drummer, dead at 87". The Tennessean. June 14, 2018. Retrieved June 14, 2018. 
  8. ^ "Longtime Elvis Presley drummer D.J. Fontana has died". ABC News. June 14, 2018. Retrieved June 14, 2018. 
External links External video Oral History, DJ Fontana shares early moments of his life story. NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Oral History Library Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – Class of 2009Performers Early influences Sidemen Authority control

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