Ron Tutt, drummer for Elvis Presley, Jerry Garcia and Billy Joel, dead at 83



Ron Tutt, the Dallas-born drummer best known for touring with Elvis Presley from 1969 to 1977 as part of the TCB (Taking Care of Business) group, has died according to a statement on the Graceland official website. In addition to his work with Presley, he recorded and toured with the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia for years on numerous side projects. As a renowned session player he can also be heard on records by The Carpenters, Johnny Cash, Gram Parsons, Neil Diamond, Elvis Costello, and hit by Billy Joel like “Piano Man”. Tutt was 83 years old.

Tutt, commonly referred to as Ronnie, joined Elvis’ group after their successful “special comeback” in 1968, taking the seat vacated by longtime Presley drummer DJ Fontana. Album collectors first heard him conduct the rhythm section of The King on the Elvis in person at the international hotel live half of the double album Memphis to Vegas / Vegas to Memphis, released in October 1969. Tutt remained with The King until the end of his life in 1977, and can be heard on the spectacular Recorded at Madison Square Garden 1972 album and Aloha from Hawaii via satellite from 1973.

As if one legend wasn’t enough, Tutt had another famous gig. In the mid-1970s he began recording and touring with Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead, both with the side project Legion of Mary (a collaboration with Merl Saunders) and the Jerry Garcia Group. Tutt played with the JGB until the end of 1981.

Presley and Garcia are rarely associated with each other (at least without the help of psychotropic substances) but in a 2017 interview with Rolling stone, Tutt turned on his two big bosses.

“I was still laughing because one night I was in Vegas playing with two piece rhinestone outfits and the next night I was dating Garcia in the tie-dye and a pair of jeans. Socially speaking, it was really different, ”said the drummer. “Elvis’ music was a lot more in your face; you could never play enough. But with Jerry, we never talked about it, but I just knew my role with this band, whatever it was, was to help keep it together.

As a session player, Tutt recorded on two Billy Joel albums piano man and Serenade of street life. (Besides “Piano Man”, it’s Tutt you hear on the hits “The Ballad of Billy the Kid” and “The Entertainer”.) He also attended Elvis Costello’s show. King of america sessions, Johnny Cash’s John R. Cash album, that of Los Lobos By the light of the moon, Passage by the Carpenters and Gram Parsons Sorrowful angel. Tutt has also toured with Neil Diamond’s band, and can be heard on the Hot August Night II live album from 1987 as well as the most recent Hot August Night / New York: Live from Madison Square Garden 2009 album and DVD.

According to Neil Diamond Central, Tutt’s favorite movie was the Lord of the Rings.

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