D. J. Fontana, Elvis Presley’s Original Drummer, Dies

SMYRNA, GA. – The last original member of Elvis Presley’s band has died at age 87.
D. J. Fontana, who drummed on about 460 of Elvis’ songs, died in his sleep at 9:33 p.m. Wednesday, according to his son, David, who announced his father’s passing in a Facebook post.
From 1954-1968, Fontana played drums behind Presley. He’s on approximately 460 of the King’s recordings, including indelible classics “Jailhouse Rock” and “Heartbreak Hotel,” and performed on the ’68 Comeback Special. He worked with everyone from Red Sovine to Ringo Starr.

Dominic Joseph Fontana was born Mar. 15, 1931, in Shreveport, La. He began playing drums in high school and taught himself to play by listening to big band records. He was hired to be the house drummer for the Louisiana Hayride in 1953, and spent his Saturday nights backing country artists like Webb Pierce and Faron Young.

Bill Black, Presley’s bassist, died in 1965. Presley died Aug. 16, 1977.