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Memphis main man.

Byline: By Alan Nichol

For fans of popular music, this year marks the 50th anniversary, on July 5 to be precise, of a truly seminal recording in Memphis, Tennessee.

A flagging session, put together by Sun Records owner Sam Phillips, was suddenly jerked into life by a 19-year-old white kid from Tupelo, Mississippi singing a blues song - an event of considerable significance 50 years ago.

The song, a relatively obscure one, was Arthur `Big Boy' Crudup's That's All Right, Mama (with Bill Monroe's bluegrass opus, Blue Moon Of Kentucky on the other side) and, as most people with any musical interest know, the singer was Elvis Aaron Presley.

The guitarist on that epochal day was born Winfield Scott Moore III, and as Scotty Moore he was to spend the next 14 years of his performing life, amid unprecedented adulation and media attention, working with The King of popular music.

Scotty Moore, now 74, arrives in Newcastle on March 5 to perform with the UK-based Grundy Pritchard Band at the Playhouse in the Haymarket.

It is something of a coincidence that Moore rolls in within 10 days of another rock `n' roll icon, Jerry Lee Lewis, who was at the City Hall yesterday.

Anyway, the profound impact of Presley's early Sun releases - more blues like Good Rockin' Tonight, Milkcow Blues, Mystery Train etc - and what followed could be measured on the Richter Scale.

Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richards recalled: "When I heard Heartbreak Hotel, I knew what I wanted to do in life. All I wanted to do in the world was to be able to play like that.

"Everybody else wanted to be Elvis, I wanted to be Scotty."

Richards was not alone.

Moore had done his stint in the post-war US Navy prior to meeting Presley and he was still trying to emulate his own influences, such as Merle Travis and Chet Atkins, when the recording session took place.

The confluence of blues, country and gospel that became the torrent of rock `n' roll was facilitated, in no small part, by Scotty Moore.

However, his significance was not simply that of a guitar player, because Moore was also the manager of Elvis in those early, pre-Colonel Tom Parker, years.

A snippet from the contractual agreement of the time, quoted in Peter Guralnick's excellent book Last Train To Memphis (The Rise of Elvis Presley), gives an idea of the prevailing music business mentality.

"Whereas WS Moore III, is a band leader and booking agent, Elvis Presley, a minor, age 19 years, is a singer of reputation and renown, and possesses bright promise of large success." Bright promise indeed!

Scotty makes this 12-date UK tour after recovering, ahead of schedule, from surgery at the end of last year and he has two new projects to promote.

His book, That's Alright Elvis, and a new CD called All The King's Men, has contributions from Jeff Beck, Keith Richards and The Mavericks among others.

Elvis never played a single show in the UK, of course, but the appearance of one of his key collaborators from the period that changed pop music may go some way towards filling that gap! Tickets are pounds 16 and the box office number is (0191) 230 5151.

FLAMENCO does not often figure in this column, in any column really, but I'm happy to put that right this week.

Andalucian guitarist Juan Martin brings his vibrant music and dance troupe to the Customs House in South Shields on Tuesday.

The origins of this passionate, often fiery, folk music are worthy of a thesis, but it is fair to say there are Moorish influences from North Africa alongside European gypsy tunes in the mix.

The term Flamenco (Flemish) arrived with Spain's Charles I when he moved from what is now Holland.

Juan Martin, once a student of the incomparable Paco De Lucia, has continued the multi-influence trend by playing with jazzmen like Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and recently with Martins 4 - the UK's guitar-playing Martins Carthy, Simpson (both rooted in folk) and Taylor (jazz) - with whom he will tour again later this year.

Juan won one accolade of note recently when he was voted into the top three guitarists in the world by US Guitar Player Magazine.

The Malaga-based performer has a couple of new CDs to promote this time around - Camino Latino and El Alquimista - and he and his troupe will bring a welcome splash of warmth and colour to the banks of the Tyne.

Ticket information is available from the Customs House box office on (0191) 454 1234.

CONCLUDING this week's gig preview is news of yet another album launch.

The Tyne Bar is the venue for Shipcote's Hot Water Valley Gang to launch their debut CD.

Shipcote, aka Graham Anderson, promises some special guests for the evening and the place is sure to be packed even before I impart the vital information that the show is free!
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 27, 2004
Words:825
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