You never know who you will run into in Nashville, so always be prepared is my motto. I was invited to attend All Shook Up w/The King’s Men and was blown away by a night of Elvis music featuring members of Elvis’ touring band and back up singers from the 70’s. On drums that evening was one of Nashville’s top session players Paul Leim, who prior to the show introduced me to Elvis’ original drummer from the 50’s and 60’s DJ Fontana.
It was an honor to meet the drummer behind the grooves to all those great Elvis Presleyhits. Blue Suede Shoes, Jailhouse Rock, Hound Dog, Don’t Be Cruel….so many more…we all know the impact Elvis had on the music world, and to meet the man responsible for all that hip shaking is a highlight of my drumming journey. I asked DJ if he would be into doing a photo shoot while I was in town. He asked if I’d be interested in doing it with the original 1950’s Gretsch kit he used in the recording studio and on tour with Elvis. WOW! So the next day I took a road trip with my good pal and assistant Johnathan far outside Nashville to meet up with DJ and his lovely wife Karen. Hearing first hand the stories of Elvis from “back in the day” was just cool. Plus, he shared so many personal snapshots and momentos that just left me in awe.
There was even a collection of snapshots backstage with The Rolling Stones from the month before. Elvis was a huge influence for the Stones, so on their latest tour stop in Nashville, they invited DJ and Karen to the show. To see the photos of the Stones hanging with one of their idols, and seeing the love and respect given to DJ is just beyond words. One of my faves was a shot of DJ and Charlie Watts in full embrace, both with huge smiles on their faces.
DJ said they talked a lot about their love of old Gretsch drum kits, with Charlie being particularly interested in DJ’s kit you see here. The Stones and DJ Fontana, 100% pure class acts.