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Ronnie Tutt: 'Legendary' Elvis Presley drummer dies at 83


Ronnie Tutt: ‘Legendary’ Elvis Presley drummer dies at 83

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Image source, Getty Images

Ronnie Tutt, the drummer who backed Elvis Presley from 1969 until his death eight years later, has died aged 83.

Elvis Presley Enterprises broke the news on its website on Saturday, saying it was “deeply saddened”.

“In addition to being a legendary drummer, he was a good friend to many of us here at Graceland,” it wrote. “He will be deeply missed by all of us.”

Dallas-born Tutt also worked with Billy Joel, Neil Diamond and Jerry Garcia in a career that spanned six-decades.

His work can be heard on Joel’s Piano Man, Elvis Costello’s King of America and the Gram Parsons albums GP and Grievous Angel.

‘Great rapport’

He joined the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll for his 1969 Taking Care of Business (TCB) tour with guitarist James Burton and other musicians to perform with Elvis at his famous Las Vegas opening.

In a 2016 interview with an Elvis fan club in Australia, Tutt admitted that he was “never really a big fan” of the star until he met him at an audition for that tour. “Once you meet him and you understand the charisma that the man had, you just can’t help but love what he does,” he said.

“We immediately had a great rapport. Visually, our eyes were constantly watching each other.”

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption, Elvis Presley’s hits include Suspicious Minds and Can’t Help Falling in Love with You

On occasion in between songs, Presley would jokingly mimic karate moves on stage in time with Tutt’s drumming.

He would also introduce Tutt to the crowd and indulge him as he entertained them with rollicking drum solos for minutes on end.

The sticksman continued working with Presley until his death in 1977, and played with TCB band members for years after.

A prolific live performer, he was also called upon by Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, Glen Campbell and Roy Orbison.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Tutt leaves behind his wife Donna, who told TMZ he died on Saturday of natural causes at his home in Tennessee, having had a longstanding heart condition. “He couldn’t play another drum lick,” she told the site.

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