Ron Tutt, the drummer for Elvis, the Jerry Garcia Band, and more, has died at the age of 83. Elvis Presley Enterprises announces Tutt’s death in a statement posted to the Graceland website on Saturday.
“All of us with Elvis Presley Enterprises were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Ronnie Tutt. In addition to being a legendary drummer, he was a good friend to many of us here at Graceland,” read the Elvis Presley Enterprises statement.
“We enjoyed each time he joined us here to celebrate Elvis Week, Elvis’ Birthday and many other special occasions. Ronnie was an amazing ambassador to Elvis’ legacy – sharing his memories of working with Elvis with fans – as well as bringing Elvis’ music to arenas around the globe through later Elvis in Concert shows and performances,” the statement continued.
Born in Dallas, TX on March 12th, 1938, Tutt spent the majority of his adult life playing drums in the studio and as part of touring bands for some of the biggest acts in the world. In 1969, Tutt joined Presley’s TCB Band just in time for his Las Vegas opening and the residencies that followed. Tutt would remain the TCB Band drummer through Presley’s death in 1977, and continued to perform with the group in its subsequent performances over the next four decades.
Beginning in early 1974, Ron Tutt joined up with the Jerry Garcia Band, whom he recorded and toured with through the early ’80s. Tutt can be heard on JGB’s 1974 album Compliments, 1976’s Reflections, 78’s Cats Under the Stars, and 82’s Run for the Roses. Tutt also worked on Garcia’s and Merl Saunders‘ Legion of Mary project.
Additionally, Tutt served as a mainstay studio drummer, working on albums like Billy Joel‘s Piano Man in 1973, Streetlife Serenade in 1974, in addition to becoming Neil Diamond‘s permanent studio drummer after leaving the JGB in 1978.
In an interview with Rolling Stone back in 2017, Tutt reflected on his time spent with Garcia and Elvis, highlighting the vast differences between working with the two.
“I’d always laugh because one night I’d be in Vegas playing with rhinestone two-piece outfits and the next night I’d be out with Garcia with the tie-dye and a pair of jeans. Socially speaking it was really different,” said Tutt.
“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 that band, no matter what configuration it was, was to help keep it together.”
Jerry Garcia Band – “Not Fade Away” – 7/9/77
[H/T Rolling Stone]