Ronnie Tutt has died. He was 83. Best known as Elvis Presley’s drummer in the last decade of The King’s life – a member of the TCB Band – Tutt also played regularly with Neil Diamond and recorded, or toured, with the likes of the Carpenters, Roy Orbison, Stevie Nicks and many more.
A legendary “showman” drummer – he also knew how to play for the song. His big, explosive fills, his huge drum kit, and his show-building drum solos, were all part of the gig always, but never got in the way of the songs. It was all about putting the songs over. Doing the work. Showcasing the tune.
I got to see Tutt play! Sadly it was with John Rowles. The gig wasn’t great, Rowles prattled on about himself, and the turnout was shit, but James Burton played guitar. And Ron Tutt hit hard at those drums. And it was something just to see them. The Taking Care of Business Band.
But for me, Tutt lives still on the Elvis: That’s The Way It Is concert film and live album. This was when he was new to Elvis’ band. And his playing on this show still blows me away. He would go on to play far more subtly on albums by Emmylou Harris and Billy Joel – and many others – but the way he built the sound up behind Elvis. Wow. That was really something. And to listen to the best of his work with The King is to hear a master showman. Well, of course. Elvis deserved nothing less.
R.I.P. Ronnie Tutt