Scotty's 50th year with Gibson
On December 5, 2003 the family, friends and
associates of Scotty Moore gathered at the Baldwin Showcase in Nashville
to honor Scotty and to celebrate his 72nd birthday and his 50 years of
playing Gibson Guitars. This was an event that had been long
planned for and for which he looked forward with much anticipation in
attending. Sadly, only days before, he was admitted to the
hospital and on the day of the party underwent surgery for a subdural
hematoma which naturally prohibited his attendance. His desire
was that the party should proceed as scheduled and that everyone should
have a good time. In that spirit, that is exactly what we did.
Scotty's guitars on display
Get well, Birthday and Congratulation card
Photo© courtesy Chip Smith
The Baldwin Showcase located on Grund St. just behind the Valley
Arts guitar building is where Gibson houses their Baldwin Pianos for
display. The room is also equipped with a full stage and sound and
was the ideal location for the party which featured, as the invitations
read, "entertainment by some of the best musicians in the
world". Mickey Butler, formerly of Gibson in conjunction with
Gail Pollock and others did a phenomenal job of putting this event
together. Upon entering the building people were first greeted
with a showcase of most of Scotty's current guitar
collection that had recently been on display at the Valley Arts
store. There also was an enormous card for Scotty that the guests
The Fred Satterfield Trio
Tracy Nelson and Emily Sanders
Photo© courtesy Chip Smith
The opening band for the evening was the Fred
Satterfield Trio. They started about 7:00 as many of the guests
were still arriving and meeting each other. Though many knew each
other, many had only known of each other but naturally the common link
was Scotty. Tracy
Nelson was there as was Emily Sanders, Scotty's 3rd wife. Tracy had known Scotty since 1969 when her band
"Mother Earth" had first relocated to Nashville.
Kevin Woods, Steve Shepherd, Molly Blanks, Ella Shepherd and
Long time friends and frequent band-mates of Scotty's
McDowell's band, Kevin Woods and Steve Shepherd
were there as was Steve's wife Ella. Two friends of Ella Shepherd came with her to the party,
Molly Blanks, and D.J. Gross who are also both good friends of Scotty's.
Molly is from Mississippi and became friends with Scotty through the
at Ronnie's shows. D.J. is Ella's dearest friend from Missouri from
their teenage years and has become very close to Scotty over the last couple
of years. Scotty jokingly refers to her as the good "D.J."
Reggie Young with his fiancé Jenny Lynn Hollowell
Reggie Young was there. He was one of the
founding members of the Bill Black Combo and he and Scotty go back to the
days of Fernwood Records when they used to sit outside drinking cheap
"Thunderbird" wine. Reggie recorded with
Elvis in the studio in 1969 when he played guitar on "Suspicious
Minds" and "In the Ghetto", using the guitar that Scotty
used to own. His work can also heard
on Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacherman" (not to mention several
hundred other hits). He came
with his fiancé Jenny Lynn Hollowell.
She's a great fiddle player and was a member of Waylon
band during the last two years he was on the road.
Jimmy Page, Cindy Hazen and Mike Freeman
Longtime friends Jimmy Page (not that one), Cindy
Hazen and Mike Freeman came. Jimmy is a Lawyer in LA and Cindy and
Mike own the house that Elvis bought before Graceland, at 1034
Audubon Drive in Memphis.
Stella and Pete Pritchard, Fiona and Liam Grundy
Pete Pritchard and
Liam Grundy along with their wives
Stella and Fiona were among the English contingent that crossed the pond
to be here. They play bass and keyboards with Scotty when he tours
in the UK and were also to play with him on this occasion. Pete said
he had talked to Scotty that morning before surgery and Scotty, ever the
professional, wanted to be reassured that Pete had his Double Bass
alright and jokingly instructed him to tell the soundman to "turn Sonny
Burgess down cause he plays too Goddamn loud!"
David Conrad, Shelby Singleton and Don Light
David Conrad is the head of A & R at Universal, MCA and
Mercury records. He was indirectly instrumental in
getting Scotty back playing guitar again after years of
retirement. While head of Almo-Irving music in 1989 he invited
Scotty to a presentation for Carl Perkins of an award for a number one
song he had written for the Judds, knowing Scotty and Carl had been
friends for a long time. It was there that Carl and Scotty
first talked of recording together.
Record executive Shelby Singleton had bought Sun
Records (not the studio) from Sam Phillips in the '60s and talent
manager Don Light has managed such acts as The Oak Ridge Boys and Jimmy Buffett
to name a couple.
Andy Ellis, Seymour Duncan, Duane and Deed Eddy
Gary Tallent on left
Andy Ellis, a senior editor for Guitar Player hoping to do a feature on Scotty for the magazine was
there as was Seymour Duncan,
the man who designs pickups for just about every kind of electric guitar
on the market. Guitar legend and virtually the inventor of
'Twang" Duane Eddy was there along with his
lovely wife Deed. Gary Tallent, you may know as the bass player
for "The E St. Band", was on hand. He had produced a
record for Sonny Burgess a few years ago and had Scotty play on
it. He also engineered and played bass on a track on Scotty's All
the King's Men album.
Lee Roy Parnell and James "Nick" Nixon
Photo© courtesy Chip Smith
After a set change Tracy Nelson took the stage backed
up by James
"Nick" Nixon, Lee
Roy Parnell and members of Scotty's U.K band.
Mandy and Danny Thompson
Mandy and Danny Thompson drove out from Indianapolis
to be here. They've been friends with Scotty for several years now
since Danny bought one of Scotty's amps.
Duane Eddy and Nick Sulcer
photo courtesy Buck Sulcer
Buck Sulcer and his son Nick came out from
Maryland. Buck was a vintage guitar dealer and met Scotty in the
early '90s through Kevin Woods. One of Scotty's favorite guitars,
his 76 L5, he got from Buck.
Joe Meador, Angela Justice and Jerry Townsend
Meador is a performer, songwriter and manager and as producer has
credits on many albums including eight Ronnie McDowell albums, as well
as works by The Jordanaires, Scotty Moore and D.J.Fontana. Jerry Townsend and his daughter Angela Justice came out from
Little Rock. Jerry, a songwriter in his own right, has also done a
lot of work helping to build Scotty's home studio.
Keith "Cracker" Durham, Seymour Duncan and Susan Rhett
While the party was going on Keith
"Cracker" Durham and Susan Rhett of MTV Networks were set up
taping in one of the back rooms. Individually, a lot of the guests
were brought in and interviewed where they talked and expressed their
well wishes and congratulations for Scotty. The whole performance
at the party was also taped since there is also a documentary about
Scotty in the works. Its quite possible that some of this footage
may end up in it.
Lee Roy Parnell, Steve Cropper, James Nixon and David
Steve Cropper and Lee Roy Parnell
Pete Pritchard and David Briggs
After Tracy performed
Steve Cropper went up to play
with James and Lee Roy. It was a real thrill to hear Steve's
signature style. My friend Peter Riley who was also in attendance
summed it up best when he said "if you removed the recordings that
Steve wrote, played on and produced there would a gaping hole in the
catalog of American Popular music".
Lee Rocker and Mike Eldred
Don Dean and Lee Rocker
Lee Rocker and Mike Eldred came out from California
with their wives Debbie and Karin. They both have known Scotty
since 1993 when playing together in "Big Blue" they invited
Scotty to record with them in Memphis. Scotty affectionately
refers to Lee and his current band as "The Little B***tards"
and Mike as his "illegitimate son". Don Dean and
Kim Boleyn, long time friends of Scotty were also there from
Kentucky. Don who has been in the musical instrument business all
his life and is a picker in the style of his old friend Merle Travis has
done work on several of Scotty's guitars and has himself about 200 in
his personal collection.
Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz presenting Scotty's L5 CT
At one point in between sets Henry Juszkiewicz, the
CEO of Gibson took the podium and acknowledged Scotty's contributions to
the music world and to Gibson guitars by presenting him with a plaque
and a new Gibson
L5CT guitar. Gail accepted these on his behalf.
After Reggie Young got up and played Jerry Schilling
spoke a little while they set the stage for Sonny
Burgess and the Pacers. Sonny Burgess was a recording artist for Sun Records
and leader of a group called The Pacers, one of the most sought after
Rockabilly bands of the 50s. He was known for his Sun recordings of
"Red Headed Woman" and "We Wanna Boogie".
Scotty had only just played with these guys last June in Tupelo at the Elvis
festival. The Pacers are Bobby Crafford on drums, Fred Douglas
on bass, Jim Aldridge on sax, Kern K. Kennedy on piano and Charles
Watson II on fiddle.
Sonny Burgess and the Pacers
Stan Kesler, another Sun Alumni was there
also. Stan was a staff musician and songwriter for Sun
Records, playing steel guitar or Bass on many Sun sessions with artists
such as Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and many more. He
wrote five songs for Elvis including "I Forgot To Remember To
Forget" and also produced "Wooly Bully" and Lil Red
Riding Hood" by Sam The Sham and the Pharoahs.
Marilyn and Ray Walker
Only two members of the Jordanaires
and their wives
were able to attend. Ray Walker and Louis Nunley. Next to
Gordon Stoker, Ray Walker has been a Jordanaire the longest, since 1957
and all of them remain active with a busy performing and recording
schedule. They play quite frequently with Scotty and D.J. when
they perform with Ronnie McDowall, the last time being in Branson.
Bob and Kittra Moore with John Jorgenson
Nashville A-Team member Bob Moore was on hand with
his wife Kittra. Bob has played on more records out of
Nashville than you can count, from Patsy Cline to Elvis.
Before meeting Bob, Kittra used to sing with a band in California called
"The Cheatin' Hearts" which featured fellow guitarist John
Jorgenson. After meeting Bob she left and the band went on to
become the highly acclaimed Desert Rose Band. John has since had a
solo career, played with Elton John and is also one of the members of
the Hellecasters. John met Scotty for the first time years ago when
he was playing at the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society convention.
He was brought in to play alongside gypsy guitarist Romane. While
playing he was surprised to look up and see Scotty standing beside him
(a little unnerving).
Mickey Butler and Steve Cropper
Mickey Butler, no longer with Gibson, recently was
head of Valley Arts Guitar in Nashville and before that was in charge of
the Gibson Memphis factory. He is the one most responsible for
such a successful party. We all owe him a big Thank You.
Jimmy Russell and Steve Cropper
Gail introduces Scotty's U.K. band
As mentioned before, when Scotty tours in Europe he
has done so with pretty much the same group of guys since 1992.
They came over from the UK to attend and were actually scheduled to
perform as a unit tonight with Scotty. The members are Jimmy
Russell on drums, Pete Pritchard on bass, Paul Ansell and David Briggs
on guitar and Liam Grundy on keyboards. In addition to performing
their own set they backed up many of the other performers of the
night. One song in particular they did was a favorite of Scotty's
that he liked to play and had actually recorded it with them on their
album was Charlie Rich's "Who Will The Next Fool Be?"
D.J. Fontana and Stan Kesler
Kenny Lovelace, Sonny Burgess and Kittra Moore
DJ was there with Karen, his wife. He played
with several of the bands that night. Kenny Lovelace is
another longtime friend. He's played with Bob Moore and James
Burton to name a couple and for the longest time now has played guitar
and fiddle Jerry Lee Lewis.
They even made a cake shaped like the L5 they gave
him but I don't remember anyone ever cutting into it.
Debbie, Lee, Roseanne with friend, Seymour, Mike and Gail
Photo© courtesy Chip Smith
Frank Michaels and Ronnie Dean
Ronnie McDowell and the Rhythm Kings
Mike Eldred and Lee Rocker join Ronnie McDowell
The last band of the night was Ronnie McDowall and
the Rythym Kings. They are Ronnie on vocals, Steve Shepherd on
keyboards (he's also the road manager), Kevin Woods on lead guitar,
Frank Michaels on guitar, Ronnie Dean McDowall on drums and Wade
Bernard on bass. D.J. played with them as the second
drummer. After a couple of songs they were joined onstage by Lee
Rocker and Mike Eldred and then the joint got hoppin. After Bob
Moore coaxed everyone out on the dance floor they shook the place till
the end of the night.
Happy Birthday and Thanks Scotty, from all of us, for the last 50, and the years to
come. Wish you could've been there, it was the only thing missing.
James V. Roy