The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum

Scotty Moore Papers and Elvis Presley at the Library and Archives

Tuesday, January 8: 4 p.m.
Posted by Jennie Thomas
Image of Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, Bill Black and DJ Fontana from the Scotty Moore Papers

To celebrate what would have been Elvis Presley’s 78th birthday on January 8, 2013, the Library and Archives is highlighting some of its collections related to the undisputed King of Rock and Roll. These collections include books; magazines, journals, and fanzines; article clippings; handbills, album flats, and posters; photographs and slides; correspondence; record executive artist files; financial records; and commercial audio and video recordings. Of particular note among these is the Scotty Moore Papers.

Scotty Moore participated in the historic early sessions at Sun Records that arguably marked the birth of rock and roll. Moore led a group called the Starlite Wranglers before Sun founder Sam Phillips teamed him up with Elvis Presley – a relationship that would continue from 1954 to 1958. Moore’s early background was in jazz and country, and he put these influences to use by counterpointing Presley’s vocals with melodic guitar solos that helped launch the rockabilly revolution. In addition to working as an engineer and session musician, he played on many of Presley’s Nashville sessions at RCA’s Studio B. Moore, bassist Bill Black and drummer D.J. Fontana served as Presley’s band onstage and on record until March 1958, when Moore and Black quit over a wage dispute. In 1968, Moore and Fontana rejoined Presley for a televised “comeback special.”

The Scotty Moore Papers spans the years 1950 to 2008 and consists of contracts, photographs and slides, clippings, publications, audio, programs, awards, press kits, set lists, sheet music, financial records and an appointment book. Moore's personal and professional life is documented through the materials; the correspondence and contracts being of particular interest, including a photocopy of the contract signed between Moore and Presley on July 12, 1954 that was cosigned by Presley’s parents, Vernon and Gladys; as well as correspondence to Moore from Colonel Thomas A. Parker, Paul McCartney, Chet Atkins, Brian May (Queen), RJ Stickwell, Sam Phillips, and Vernon Presley – mostly related to recording with Presley, Moore’s impact on rock and roll, and planning for Presley tributes and memorial events. The clippings in the collection shed additional light on Moore's relationship with Presley through retrospectives compiled for many of the same tributes and memorial events discussed in the correspondence; while the photographic materials include rare images of Moore with Elvis Presley, Les Paul, and industry executives – on stage, off stage, in radio stations and recording studios, and at various events and parties. (photo of Elvis Presley performing from the Library and Archives' Scotty Moore Papers.)

There are also individual items of note relating to Presley in other Library and Archives collections, including a set list handwritten by Presley for a show on March 20, 1974; a reproduction photograph of Presley and Bill Haley from Presley's first appearance in Cleveland, opening up for Roy Acuff and Kitty Wells, at Brooklyn High School on February 26, 1955; a copy of expenses for fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Wanda Jackson while touring with Presley in 1955-1956; and a United Press International teletype wire copy related to Presley’s death from August 16-17, 1977.

To commemorate Presley’s 78th birthday, the Library and Archives has created a new research guide,, to help lead you through the numerous archival collections and library materials we have available. For more images featuring Elvis Presley from the Scotty Moore Papers, click here!

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