D. J. Fontana (born Dominic Joseph Fontana) is a genuine rock and roll pioneer. He was a member of Elvis Presley’s first accompanying band called The Blue Moon Boys (Scotty Moore on guitar, Bill Black on bass and D. J. Fontana on drums). We have all heard his drumming on such classic hits as “Heartbreak Hotel“, “Hound Dog“, “Don’t Be Cruel“, “Blue Suede Shoes“, or “Jailhouse Rock“. Fontana is an Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee and the last surviving member of The Blue Moon Boys.
The musician’s wife, Karen Fontana, has announced her husband’s passing through The Associated Press: “He was loved by everybody all over the world. He treated everybody like everybody was his friend.”
Presley’s ex-wife, Priscilla Presley, issued a statement calling Fontana “a tremendously talented musician and a wonderful man.”
Rolling Stone magazine ranked the legendary drummer no. 13 on its ‘100 Greatest Drummers of All Time’ list saying: “D.J. Fontana was the cutting edge of rock & roll drumming, making hillbilly music swing at a time when country and bluegrass groups were shunning drums altogether. He pioneered a litany of oft-imitated licks from the jumpy snare hits of ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ to the waves of punchlines that made ‘Hound Dog’ howl.” The magazine also quoted The Band’s Levon Helm: “He had incredible technique and fast hands, so he could deploy those Buddy Rich press rolls whenever he wanted to. He played like a big-band drummer — full throttle. Now Elvis had a real foundation, some architecture, and he made the most of it. D.J. set Elvis free.”
Karen Fontana told The Associated Press that her husband died in his sleep in Nashville on Wednesday night. She said he’d been suffering complications from breaking his hip in 2016. He was 87.Share