LEGENDARY DRUMMER D.J. FONTANA
TO BE HONORED AS NASHVILLE CAT
AT THE COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME® AND MUSEUM
Renowned drummer D.J. Fontana will be saluted on Saturday, October 22, as part of the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s popular series Nashville Cats: A Celebration of Music City Musicians. The program, which will begin at 1:30 p.m. in the Museum’s Ford Theater, is included with Museum admission and free to Museum members. The program will be streamed live on www.countrymusichalloffame.org.
Hosted by Bill Lloyd, the program will include an in-depth, one-on-one interview illustrated with vintage recordings, photos and film clips from the Museum’s Frist Library and Archive. Immediately following the program, Fontana will sign autographs in the Museum Store.
Fontana has spent more than five decades on the road and in recording studios providing a rocking, straightforward beat and a laid-back demeanor to numerous shows and sessions. Though he is best known as Elvis Presley’s drummer, Fontana has played on recordings by Steve Earle, Lefty Frizzell, Chris Isaak, Waylon Jennings, Paul McCartney, Dolly Parton, Carl Perkins, Charley Pride, Jim Reeves, Keith Richards, Porter Wagoner and more.
Dominic Joseph “D.J.” Fontana was born on March 15, 1931, in Shreveport, Louisiana. He began his career on theLouisiana Hayride as a staff drummer in 1953. His break came in 1954 when Elvis Presley and the Blue Moon Boys, consisting of Presley on rhythm guitar, Bill Black on the bass and Scotty Moore on the lead guitar, played the Hayride. The band met Fontana backstage and invited him to perform with them. Fontana performed with the band for several months before becoming a full-time member in August 1955.
The Blue Moon Boys were among the musicians on iconic Elvis recordings such as “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Hound Dog” and “Jailhouse Rock.” The band toured with Elvis and appeared with him on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956 and ’57. After the band officially broke up in 1958, Fontana continued to record with Presley. In his 14 years with Elvis, Fontana drummed on more than 460 Presley recordings.
Though Fontana appeared in some of Presley’s early movies including G.I. Blues, Jailhouse Rock, King Creoleand Loving You, he typically stayed busy as a Nashville session player while Elvis acted. He recorded with Lefty Frizzell, Roy Orbison, Jim Reeves, Ernest Tubb and Porter Wagoner. When Presley made his return to the stage in his 1968 comeback special, Fontana was there beside him. It was the last time the two performed together.
In 1997, Fontana and Moore teamed up with some of rock & roll’s finest for the Grammy-nominated album All the King’s Men. The two also joined Paul McCartney on his cover of Presley’s “That’s All Right” for Good Rockin’ Tonight: The Legacy of Sun Records in 2001.
Fontana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. The man who helped bring drums to rockabilly music and shape the sound of rock & roll continues to make his mark on music. He lives in Nashville and continues to record.
Museum programs are made possible, in part, by grants from the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission and by an agreement between the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is operated by the Country Music Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization chartered by the state of Tennessee in 1964. The Museum’s mission is the preservation of the history of country and related vernacular music rooted in southern culture. With the same educational mission, the Foundation also operates CMF Records, the Museum’s Frist Library and Archive, CMF Press, Historic RCA Studio B, and Hatch Show Print®.
More information about the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is available at www.countrymusichalloffame.org or by calling (615) 416-2001.