This month’s guest columnist is David Fontana, son of legendary drummer, DJ Fontana, and a drummer and musician in his own right. In this column, David tells us a bit about growing up with a famous father, and about his own experiences in the business which include working with tribute artists such as Peter Alden. David Fontana and the staff of LadyLuckMusic/ETARadio (along with fans and musicians from around the world) also agree that it is time for DJ Fontana to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Thanks, David!

Elvis Tribute Artists Radio

Ladyluckmusic.com

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Several years ago, I got a call from Pete Alden, an entertainer from Florida who does a tribute to Elvis. Now I can’t even begin to tell you how many calls like this I have gotten through the years. I have stayed away from most of them because a lot of the artists don’t take the time to know their craft. And, believe it or not, some don’t respect the music. Pete was different. He knew what he wanted and had such love for Elvis, as well as D.J., Scotty, and Bill.

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Hi, my name is David Fontana, and I was asked to write this column telling about my career and that of the person who I would say is “the greatest drummer the music business has ever had”-- my Dad, D.J. Fontana. I know I am a little biased, yet my views are also expressed by many very talented musicians, a lot of whom my dad played with. D.J. is well known for his work with Elvis, but many people do not know that he has played with many other artists as well, including Carl Perkins, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison.

I can remember in the late ‘60's and throughout the ‘70's, we would go for weeks without seeing our father because he was recording with just about every country artist out there. Dad would work four sessions a day, seven days a week. I remember watching TV at a very early age and seeing Dad playing with Elvis, yet he was at home with us. I could never figure out how he was in two places at one time!

The next time you listen to the early Elvis records, pay close attention to the drums. You have to understand that no one was playing drums like that in the fifties. The hard back beat and the swing that D.J. brought to the records was never heard before, but Elvis loved it. They were all swimming in uncharted waters. I have people ask me all the time: “What was your Dad playing on Jailhouse Rock?” The only thing I can tell them is that I don’t have the foggiest idea.

I now come to a topic that is most dear to my heart! I have to say that I truly believe that D.J. Fontana, Bill Black and Scotty Moore should have been the first musicians inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I know of many influential people, as well as thousands of Elvis and music fans that have called, written letters, and signed petitions to the Hall of Fame, but for some reason they have decided not to induct all these men. How can you legitimately have a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame without these legendary men?

I guess I should also tell you a little about myself. I started playing drums at an early age. I would watch my Dad, then try to play the songs like him. I started playing professionally when I was about fourteen years old. Dad would give me the gigs that he couldn’t do, so I was playing with excellent musicians at a young age. I went on to have a pretty good career myself. I’ve played for many country artists such as Eddy Raven, Mel McDaniel, The Moffats, Cledus T. Judd and others. I now have the choice to play when I want to, so I pick very carefully. I want it to be fun or I’ll just choose to stay home.

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I put together a band that I honestly believe is one of the best tribute bands out there. I have played with these guys for many years and they learned the material just like it is on the records. They all have such a love for the music, as well as the men. Our guitar player, Terry Fulwider, even went as far as to buy a guitar like Scotty’s just for our show. Alan Stanhope on bass guitar, and Chris James on keys are the best at what they do. These guys are on all the shows that we do with Pete. I believe in them so much that I will not do a show without them.

Peter Alden is a fantastic entertainer. He brings such love of the music to the stage that everyone can see it through his act. Another thing I really admire about Peter is that when he gets off the stage, he’s just Pete. No pretense. What you see is what you get.

Pete and his friend Brian McCullough (a Roy Orbison tribute artist) wrote a show based on the friendship of Elvis and Roy Orbison which we played on as well. It was different because it presented Elvis and Roy on stage together. It was a unique concept and I wish it had gotten a better chance to be seen. We really had a lot of fun on that show. Dad liked it too!

When we do our Elvis show, we also offer a true rockabilly show. We do many fun songs from that era as well as songs that we have put our own touch to. Pete and our band have decided to record a CD, coming out in February, featuring some really exciting songs. I have even re-arranged Jailhouse Rock in a new style that adds the freshness of today’s technology to the raw rockabilly sound of the ‘50's.

I would like to thank Joanna for giving me the opportunity to say a few words here. She has done more than her share trying to get D.J. into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and I appreciate it very much. In closing, I want everyone to do just one thing for me.......“Keep the music alive!”

David Fontana

While the on-line petition is a step in the right direction, it is believed that mailing a letter or postcard directly to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland might be more effective

Click here for the on-line petition calling for the induction of DJ Fontana into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (sideman category).

and also

Mail letters or postcards to
:
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation
1290 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10104

USA