The Blue Moon Boys
|The Blue Moon Boys|
|Origin||Memphis, Tennessee, United States|
|Genres||Rockabilly, country, rock and roll, folk, blues|
|Labels||Sun, RCA Victor|
|Associated acts||Elvis Presley|
The Blue Moon Boys were a band formed by Elvis Presley, guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black. The group members were introduced by Sun Studio owner Sam Phillips in 1954, except for D.J. Fontana, who joined the group during a Louisiana Hayride tour in 1955.
On July 18, 1953, Elvis Presley recorded a single in the studio as a gift for his mother's birthday, the Ink Spots' "My Happiness", with "That's When Your Heartaches Begin" on the flipside. Presley's recording was managed by Phillips' secretary, Marion Keisker, who also kept a demo recording for the absent owner of the studio. Keisker called Presley for an appointment at the studio almost a year later, he returned on June 26, 1954, and although most of the session was not recorded, Phillips was impressed by Presley and introduced him to the country music band Starlight Wranglers' guitarist Scotty Moore, who later introduced Presley to bassist Bill Black.
On July 5, 1954, the trio headed to the Sun Studios for a recording test together. They recorded the songs "Harbor Lights" and "I Love You Because", and during a break they performed an impromptu version of Arthur Crudup's "That's All Right", which impressed Phillips, who asked for a refinement of the interpretation that later was recorded. Phillips played the recording for WHBQ's DJ Dewey Phillips, who played the song on his regular show next night, on July 8. On July 9, the trio recorded what became the flipside to "That's All Right", an uptempo rockabilly version of Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky". The single was released on July 19, 1954, and was a local hit in Arkansas, Mississippi and New Orleans.
Scotty Moore became the manager of the band, and they toured several cities in the south, the three members still working at their regular employments when not touring. Both Moore and Black focused more on the group after they let Presley perform at the regular Starlight Wranglers show on the Bon Air club, where the reception of the audience was unfavorable, and led to animosity between them and the other members of the group for having to leave the stage. The Blue Moon Boys appeared on a regular basis at Eagle's Nest club in Memphis, Tennessee. Sam Phillips booked the band an appearance at the Grand Ole Opry, which was not well received. After the failure, Phillips contacted Opry's main competition, the Louisiana Hayride. They made their first appearance on October 16, 1954. Presley sang "That's All Right" followed by the flipside of the record, "Blue Moon of Kentucky". The performance was well received and they signed a one-year contract to be official members of the Hayride, while Presley also signed a new management contract with Bob Neal. On August 8, D.J. Fontana joined the band as the drummer on a regular basis after having played occasionally with them, the first time in Shreveport and subsequently on tour. After disputes with Hank Snow's manager, Tom Parker, who booked most of Presley's appearances, Bob Neal turned over the contract to Colonel Parker who became officially Presley's manager on December 15, 1955.
RCA Records and later years
In January 1956 Presley signed a $40,000 contract with RCA Records, recording for the first time on January 10, 1956, Mae Axton's "Heartbreak Hotel". The Blue Moon Boys continued appearing on Presley's recordings as well as in movies like Loving You. The first live appearance of the band since Presley's army return was in 1960, during The Frank Sinatra Show's special Welcome Home Elvis. The band's last appearance was during the Elvis 1968 Comeback Special—minus Bill Black, who had died in 1965 of a brain tumor. In 2007, the Blue Moon Boys were inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville.
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