D.J. Fontana

Click for Scotty Moore / DJ Fontana Audio Interview, Courtesy American Routes, Real Audio

DJ Fontana began his incredible career as a staff drummer back in 1953 on the famous Louisiana Hayride. While working on the Hayride in '54, Fontana met Elvis, Scotty, and Bill and joined the trio as their first drummer. The man behind the beat for the first 15 years of Elvis' career, DJ performed alongside the King in films such as "King Creole" and "Jailhouse Rock", as well as the infamous Ed Sullivan television appearance and the '68 Comeback TV Special. All in all, DJ played on approximately 460 RCA cuts with Elvis -- and he's also played with Waylon Jennings, Lefty Frizzell, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many more.

But how did DJ first learn his famous beat? Here's what he told journalist Bob Hayden a few years ago: "When I was a younger fella, I used to work 'strip joints.' All those dancers wanted the drummer to 'catch' their legs and their arms and whatever with a drumbeat at the right time. That's where I learned to catch every movement that Elvis would make on stage and I thought, well this is just like playing for a stripper you know. You see we couldn't hear what Elvis was singing half the time because of the screaming crowds, so he would cue the beat by moving at certain times and we knew exactly where the song was at. So that's why we got along so well I guess, because I could catch every move he made." So that's his secret....

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