Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Since Ol' Scotty left me...the accurate story detailing the death of my friend Scotty Moore

Winfield Scott "Scotty" Moore was a dear friend of mine. The guy who invented rock 'n' roll guitar died Tuesday in his bed at his home in a rural and rugged part of Metropolitan Nashville.  
There were many errors in the wire stories people picked up for local newspapers. And no one called me to write something, even though the last published interview with Scotty was written by me back when I worked for the morning newspaper here in Nashville. He told me it was the most-accurate interview story he'd ever been involved with. In an attempt to help clear up the information, I interviewed his caretaker/friend and wrote something I tried to peddle to the Nashville Scene. I didn't hear from them until way past time to find a new home for it.
I will be writing more about Scotty, mostly as my friend, and as a guy I was proud to know. But, in order to correct inaccuracies reported elsewhere, let me offer you this story tonight.
A public memorial service to celebrate the life of Scotty Moore -- the man who invented rock ‘n’ roll guitar -- is being planned for sometime in the near future in Nashville, according to the woman who was closest to him.
Moore, 84, who provided the licks for the songs that helped launch the Elvis Presley phenomenon, died in his sleep Tuesday morning, according to Margi Lane, his friend and caretaker.
She said Moore died peacefully, sometime after 7 a.m., the last time she checked on him.  He wanted to stay in bed a little longer because his back, because of degenerating disc disease, was hurting.
But he never reopened his eyes to this world, anyway. 
“Everyone else wanted to be Elvis, I wanted to be Scotty,” famously said Rolling Stones guitarist and founder Keith Richards, who was among Moore’s friends.
A small family funeral will be held Thursday (June 30, 2016) in Humboldt, Tennessee, which is about five miles from Gadsden, Tenn., where he was born Dec. 27, 1931.
Lane said after the burial is taken care of, she’ll begin to explore the when and where of the Nashville tribute concert.
“I’m sure we’ll have friends who come in from New York, London and Los Angeles,” Lane said. “We’ll want it to be top-notch and classy, like he was.”
Lane began taking care of the great guitarist after her own mother, Gail Pollock, Moore’s long-time companion and protector, began the struggle with cancer that ended in her death last November.
Moore was the last one left of the four men who were in the room on July 5, 1954, at Memphis Recording Service, when they cooked up their version of Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s “That’s All Right,” launching the rock ‘n’ roll era. 
Bill Black, the standup bassist who provided the rhythm for what were called, variously, "Elvis, Scotty and Bill" or "The Blue Moon Boys" died Oct. 21, 1965. Elvis died Aug. 16, 1977. And the producer of that Sun Records release, Sam Phillips died July 30, 2003.
And Scotty now is back with his old friends making some beautiful  noise with that weird teenager with pink shirts and greasy hair and the more subdued bassist. And it's sure that Sam is wild-eyed as he watches what is transpiring. 
Lane said the humble Moore “would have absolutely hated the gossip” published earlier in the week that he died feeble and crippled up, a shell of himself.
“He was still with us,” said Lane, noting that while Moore did suffer a bit of dementia, he still was up and about, with the aid of a walker due to the degenerating disc disease in his back.
When he wasn't napping or talking to old journalists on the phone, Scotty daily enjoyed watching cowboy shows before Margi made dinner, something her mother had done for decades.
She said right up until the end, Moore entertained friends who would visit him in his rural Davidson County home and studio.
Wednesday morning, Lane was going through Moore’s mementoes –“pictures, gold records and all this other memorabilia,” which will be going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where he is enshrined.
Because of a variety of health woes in the last couple of decades, Moore no longer played guitar, and in fact his collection now belongs to various museums and collectors.
“People occasionally would bring a guitar over to the house, but he wouldn’t play it,” Lane said. “He wasn’t sad about it. He said he was through with it. He had done it. And it was over.”

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