(NYTimes) D. J. Fontana, whose simple but forceful drumming behind Elvis Presley helped to shape the early sound of rock ’n’ roll, died on Wednesday at a hospital in Nashville. He was 87.
His death was confirmed by his son David, who said Mr. Fontana had been in poor health since breaking his hip in a fall last year.
Mr. Fontana was the first drummer in Presley’s band and played with him for 14 years, from Presley’s earliest days in the national spotlight through the 1968 television special, called simply “Elvis,” that was widely hailed as Presley’s return to form. He backed Presley on more than 450 recordings, including hits like “Hound Dog,” “All Shook Up,” “Blue Suede Shoes” and “It’s Now or Never,” and was seen playing with him in the movies “Loving You,” “Jailhouse Rock” and “G.I. Blues.”