Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Features

August 12, 2008

Musicians get taste of Elvis fame

GLASGOW — Country recording artist Ronnie McDowell was one of the first people to do a tribute to Elvis Presley following his death.

In 1977, McDowell, who is originally from Portland, Tenn., released a song he wrote titled “The King Is Gone.” According to McDowell’s Web site, the song has sold more than 5 million copies.

Performing as a member of his band was Greg Martin, of Glasgow.

“I had the pleasure of working with Ronnie McDowell from 1981-1989,” Martin said. “It was a great learning experience.”

One of the highlights of McDowell’s shows, Martin said, was his tributes. McDowell can impersonate Johnny Cash, Ernest Tubb, Conway Twitty, as well as Elvis.

“My favorite period for Elvis was the early rock-a-billy stuff. I enjoyed playing ‘Jailhouse Rock,’ ‘Heartbreak Hotel,’ ‘That’s All Right,’ and ‘I Want You, I Need You, I Love You,’ .... the raw stuff,” he said.

It was through McDowell that Martin met and played with many of Presley’s former band members — guitarists Scotty Moore and James Burton, drummer D.J. Fontana, and his vocal group, The Jordanaires.

“I once got to perform with Ronnie, Scotty Moore, D.J. Fontana and The Jordanaires. That was an amazing experience,” Martin said.

Unfortunately, Martin never met Presley in person.

“But through Ronnie I was able to get a small taste of what it may have been like musically,” he said. “My father saw Elvis in Louisville in the late ’50s. He said it was a phenomenal experience.”

Growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, Presley had a big influence on Martin.

“I was more of a Beatles fan that led me to Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, ZZ Top and the blues,” Martin said.

When Martin left McDowell’s band, another local musician, Anthony Kenney, took his place.

Kenney was with McDowell from 1989 to 1992, after which he also joined The Kentucky HeadHunters.

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