We’ve lost the man who defined the backbeat of Rock & Roll. More importantly, we’ve lost a gentle, humble man with an easy, shy smile who we were privileged to know, Dominic Joseph Fontana, better known throughout the world as D.J. Fontana.
When Elvis Presley added a drummer to the original “Blue Moon Boys,” Scotty Moore and Bill Black, it was D.J.Fontana. With the dawn of Rock & Roll and Elvis’s popularity on shows like the “Louisiana Hayride,” D.J. was finally able to move his drum set from behind the curtain (Country audiences of the time were not as accepting of drums) to the main stage where he stayed and innovated for the rest of his career.
All it takes is one listen to Elvis records such as “My Baby Left Me,” “Hound Dog,” “Trouble,” and, of course, “Jailhouse Rock” to hear how D.J. laid down a beat “like a ton of coal” to drive the Presley express in the recording studio.