Elvis guitarist Scotty Moore dies at 84

Scotty Moore, who played guitar for the late Elvis Presley, poses in Hollywood on Feb 26, 2002.
Scotty Moore, who played guitar for the late Elvis Presley, poses in Hollywood on Feb 26, 2002.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Scotty Moore, Elvis Presley's first guitarist who was credited with changing the role of the guitar in pop music, has died at home in Tennessee. He was 84.

"I'm very sorry to report that Scotty died at home on the morning of June 28," said a brief statement on his website. "No public service is planned at this time," it added.

Born Winfield Scott Moore III on his family's Tennessee farm on Dec 27, 1931, he was the youngest of four boys.

Moore began playing the guitar aged eight and enlisted in the Navy at just 16 in 1948, lying about his age. He served in Korea and China before being discharged four years later.

In 1954, he was playing with a country band and recording at Sun Records in Memphis, when the label's owner introduced him to Elvis, kicking off what would become a 14-year career as Presley's guitarist and first manager.

Moore's hits with Presley included Heartbreak Hotel, Don't Be Cruel and Hound Dog, and he also appeared in several of his films.

He last performed with Elvis on an NBC television special in 1968. In subsequent years, he worked as a sound engineer, working with the likes of Ringo Star, Dolly Parton, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.

Moore was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, and Rolling Stone magazine ranked him as 29 on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.

"Moore's concise, aggressive runs mixed country picking and blues phrasing into a new instrumental language," the magazine wrote.

"If Moore had done nothing but the 18 Sun recordings - including 'Mystery Train' and 'Good Rockin' Tonight' - his place in history would be assured.

"But he continued to play with Elvis, contributing the scorching solos to Heartbreak Hotel and Hound Dog," the magazine wrote.

Moore's playing influenced guitarists across the world, including The Rolling Stones founding member Keith Richards and the Beatle, George Harrison.

"Everyone else wanted to be Elvis," Richards has said. "I wanted to be Scotty."

"We didn't know we were trying to create something new," a modest Moore was quoted as telling The New York Times in 1997.

"We were trying to do something with a little different angle from what was on the market."