Bill Black (Elvis Presley)


Every rock bassist, regardless of the respective sub-genre(s) in which they toil, owes infinite homage to the late William Patton “Bill” Black.


A showman, bandleader, upright slap master, and one of the first electric players to wax a side (“Jailhouse Rock’) – Black and his longtime colleague guitarist Scotty Moore, and D.J. Fontana were Elvis Presley’s “Blue Moon Boys.”


Bill’s motifs for “That’s All Right,” “Hound Dog,” and “Heartbreak Hotel” set the standard for rock bass.  


Born in Memphis, Bill started out on guitar and took up the bass as a teen, modeling his technique after Fred Maddox, known for his slap style. Black met future Elvis guitarist Scotty Moore while working the club circuit with such notable local cats as Paul Burlison, Johnny Burnette, and Dorsey Burnette.


In July 1954, Moore and Black were tabbed to back a fresh-faced kid named Elvis, and the rest as they say is history.  Bill had a profound influence on Elvis’ stage antics, prodding the shy singer to exaggerate his moves.


Following his tenure with Presley, Black formed Bill Black’s Combo which waxed several albums and chart hits from 1959 to 1962. Black passed from a bout with cancer in 1965. His upright bass is owned by Paul McCartney.


Bill Black Sound & Vision…


“Good Rockin’ Tonight”


“Heartbreak Hotel”


“That’s All Right”


“Hound Dog”


“Jailhouse Rock”


Dig The Bill Black Combo “Smokie” with Black workin’ the thumb!


Dig Sir Paul with Bill’s bass: