Elvis Presley's TCB Band and Back Up Singers
When Elvis Presley committed to returning to live concert performances in 1969, he needed to recruit, along with back-up singers and other show members, a new core rhythm group. The new players would eventually become known as The TCB Band, a nod to the 'Taking Care of Business' slogan and logo Elvis had adopted for his personal and professional life.
Elvis' first live concert engagement was to be a four-week run at the new International Hotel in Las Vegas beginning on July 31, 1969 and he asked James Burton to assemble a list of players to form his backing rock band. By mid-July 1969, the group was assembled - and approved - and consisted of: James Burton (lead guitar), Larry Muhoberac (piano), Jerry Scheff (bass), Ronnie Tutt (drums) and John Wilkinson (rhythm guitar).
In addition there was an ensemble of back up singers and orchestra.
Millie Kirkham - High voice singer. Kathy Westmoreland also took over from Millie Kirkham as the high voice singer during the August / September 1970 engagement.
Bobby Morris conducted a 30 strong orchestra. Another major change occurred during the August / September 1970 engagement, this time Joe Guercio and his orchestra took up a permanent place in the lineup.
Charlie Hodge who would be with Elvis from 1969-1977.
The Imperials Quartet; Jake Hess, Jim Murray, Gary McSpadden, Armond Morales. In November 1971, J.D. Sumner and The Stamps Quartet (Donnie Sumner, Bill Baize, Ed Enoch, Richard Sterban (Ed Wideman) replaced 'The Imperials Quartet'. Larry Strickland joined 'The Stamps' in 1974.
In January 1974, Dave Rowland replaced Donnie Sumner in The Stamps Quartet and a new group was formed and named, Voice by Elvis. Others to appear in the 'Stamps Quartet' line up (From 1976) were; Ron Booth, Pat Brown and Buck Buckles, with Buck Buckles staying until the final tour in 1977.
Voice was a hand picked group consisting of three members; Donnie Sumner, Sherrill Nielson, Tim Baty (Who wrote Thinking About You). For the March 1974 tour Swede Per-Erik Hallin replaced Sherrill Nielson.
Over the years 1970-77 there were several changes to the TCB Band and we document them in this article.
The TCB Band
The TCB Band - James Burton - Glen D Hardin - Jerry Scheff - Ronnie Tutt.
James Burton played lead guitar. James was born in 1939 in Louisiana and as a teen appeared on 'The Louisiana Hayride'. He eventually worked for Ricky Nelson, including appearing with him on the Nelson family's 'Ozzie & Harriet' TV series. He also became well known for his session work with such greats as The Everly Brothers, The Beach Boys, and Sonny and Cher. Elvis had gotten in touch with him about being part of the 1968 TV special, but he was unavailable. Elvis recruited him as lead guitarist for his new band in 1969, a position he would keep until Elvis' death in 1977. After that, James continued with session work and toured with other stars such as Gram Parsons, Buffalo Springfield, Emmylou Harris and John Denver.
James Burton is a well respected guitarist in the rock and country music industries and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.
John Wilkinson played rhythm guitar in the band from 1969 until Elvis' last show in 1977. Born in Washington, DC in 1945, John moved with his family to Springfield, Missouri. His father, a professor of psychology, was very talented musically and was a big influence. John began playing guitar at age five and banjo at age six. He also played trumpet. He first met Elvis in 1956 when he was able to see him backstage at an Elvis concert in Springfield. His early musical influences were folk singers like Peter, Paul and Mary, Gordon Lightfoot and The Kingston Trio. He was able to join The Kingston Trio at one point, a dream come true. After Elvis' death, John worked for an aircraft company. While working there he suffered a severe stroke in 1989. No longer able to continue working in that field or to play the guitar he returned to performing as a vocalist.
Jerry Scheff played bass guitar. Jerry grew up in San Francisco and moved to Sacramento at age 14. He played the tuba in grammar school took up the bass in seventh grade. He played classical and jazz music on the string bass. He served in the Navy, ending up in San Diego when he was discharged in 1961. Jerry moved to Los Angles, where he began session work.
His first hit song to play on was 'Along Comes Mary' by The Association.
He played for Johnny Mathis, Johnny Rivers, Neil Diamond, Nancy Sinatra, Pat Boone, Sammy Davis Jr., Dionne Warwick, Barbra Streisand and Linda Ronstadt to name a few. Jerry played bass for Elvis' concerts from 1969 to 1977 except for a two-year period, 1973 - 1975, while he was going through a divorce. After Elvis' death he toured with Bob Dylan, Bette Midler, John Denver and Elvis Costello. During the two-year absence of Jerry Scheff, Emory Gordy Jr. and Duke Bardwell each took a turn as bass player for Elvis.
Glenn D Hardin replaced Larry Muhoberac on piano. Glen is from Texas and began playing piano at age 8. He hadn't thought about playing professionally until he got a job a nightclub in San Diego, California while he was in the U.S. Navy. After leaving the Navy he moved to Los Angeles and started doing session work. He has worked with artists such as Buddy Holly's former group The Crickets, Emmylou Harris, Ricky Nelson, Travis Tritt, Roy Orbison and John Denver among many others.
He played piano in Elvis' concerts from 1970 to early 1976.
Following are brief bios of others to play in the TCB Band:
(Follow the links for more info)
Emory Gordy Jr. had done session work for Elvis, sitting in for Jerry on the March 1972 session that produced recordings such as 'Separate Ways', 'Burning Love' and 'Always On My Mind'. When Elvis needed to replace Jerry in the concert lineup in April 1973, he was already familiar with Emory's work. He toured with Elvis from then until September 1973, performing in 113 live shows with Elvis. Emory has worked on albums with such artists as Alabama, The Bellamy Brothers, Jimmy Buffett, Rosanne Cash, Billy Joel, Wynonna Judd and many others. He has also produced soundtracks for films such as 'The Tin Cup', 'Switchback', and 'The Kings of New York' among others. He is married to country singing star Patty Loveless.
Duke Bardwell replaced Emory Gordy Jr. in 1974. He had met Ronnie Tutt on a session for Jose Feliciano and it was Ronnie who suggested him to Elvis. He would play bass in the band until Jerry Scheff returned in 1975. Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1943, Bardwell is part of a family of nine who, including his parents Stanford and Loyola, were all named after major universities. He began his musical career at age five when his mother gave him a ukulele. He has played for artists such as Tom Rush, Emmylou Harris and Kenny Loggins.
Ronnie Tutt played drums for Elvis from 1969 to 1977. Ronnie is from Dallas, Texas. As a very young child his mother put him in dance class. He also began playing musical instruments, starting at age three with a ukelele, then guitar, violin and trumpet. He didn't start playing the drums until his late teens. His experience in dance gave him a sense of rhythm that wasn't satisfied by other instruments. The first band he played with was a western-swing band. His friend Larry Muhoberac, a keyboard player, put in a good word for him and he was granted an audition as Elvis' drummer in 1969. In an interview he once said the reason he thought Elvis gave him the job was ..'I emulated and accented everything that he did just instinctively. Every move, almost like a glorified stripper! And he loved that'. Ronnie has also worked with Billy Joel, Johnny Cash, The Carpenters and Neil Diamond.
Over the years, several other drummers substituted for Ronnie Tutt in Elvis' show when scheduling conflicts arose.
Bob Lanning played the drums for shows in early 1970. Jerome 'Stump' Monroe, who was the regular drummer for The Sweet Inspirations, sat in on a couple of shows. Session drummer Larry Londin, who had worked with Elvis at RCA's Studio B in 1971, filled in for Ronnie for eight performances in March 1976 and again in June 1977 for Elvis' last two shows. Londin also worked with numerous other artists including Rosanne Cash, Randy Travis, David Frizzell, Rodney Crowell, Aaron Tippin, George Strait and Al Green.
Larry Muhoberac grew up in Louisiana and began playing accordion and piano at age 5. He toured Europe with the Woody Herman band at age of 20. He moved to Memphis in 1959. Formerly known as Larry Owens, he and his band performed at Elvis' two Memphis-area charity concerts in 1961. He became a session player in California and worked on several soundtrack recording sessions with Elvis, including 'Frankie & Johnny', 'Paradise Hawaiian Style' and 'Speedway'. He played the first Elvis engagement at the International Hotel in 1969. He went on to play for such artists as Neil Diamond, Al Martino, Tina Turner and Ray Charles among others. In 1986, he emigrated to Australia, where music still keeps him very busy today.
Glenn D Hardin replaced Larry Muhoberac on piano. Glen is from Texas and began playing piano at age 8. He hadn't thought about playing professionally until he got a job a nightclub in San Diego, California while he was in the U.S. Navy. After leaving the Navy he moved to Los Angeles and started doing session work. He has worked with artists such as Buddy Holly's former group The Crickets, Emmylou Harris, Ricky Nelson, Travis Tritt, Roy Orbison and John Denver among many others. He played piano in Elvis' concerts from 1970 to early 1976.
Shane Keister played piano for eight shows in early 1976 until Tony Brown was hired to replace Glenn D. Hardin. Tony Brown is the son of a preacher and secular music was discouraged in his youth. Gospel music was his early inspiration. He played and toured with The Oak Ridge boys. After working with Elvis he began working in Nashville in the recording business. Today, he's an influential record producer and industry executive.
David Briggs played keyboards for Elvis's shows from 1976 until the end of February 1977. His work with Elvis dates back to 1966, when he was called in to substitute for pianist Floyd Cramer, who was late for one of the recording sessions for the 'How Great Thou Art' album. Briggs played piano in Cramer's place for the song Love Letters, one of the non-gospel songs recorded in those same sessions. Cramer then arrived to take over on piano, but Elvis liked Briggs and kept him on for the rest of those sessions to play organ. He continued to record with Elvis through to his last recording session in 1976. David is from Alabama and the famous music of the Muscle Shoals area. His first recording session was at age 14. He has recorded with artists such as Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers, Mark Chestnut, Barbara Mandrell and many others. He has also worked in Nashville as a songwriter, a producer and a music director for television specials.
Bobby Ogdin replaced David Briggs on electric piano and worked for Elvis Presley from March of 1977 and all further shows. It is said that David Briggs had recommended Bobby to Elvis.
Throughout the 1970's, these musicians toured with Elvis and played in over 1,000 shows across the USA.
Elvis Presley Family History : 1669-1935
Elvis Presley Biography
Gladys and Vernon Presley : Elvis Presley's Mother and Father
Interview with Vernon Presley : 1978
Vernon and Gladys Talked About Raising Young Elvis : 1956
Jessie D. McDowell (J.D.) Presley : Elvis Presleys Grandfather
For a more (very) detailed history of Elvis Presley see our pages; starting at Elvis Presley 1935-1953
Interview with Larry Muhoberac
Interview with John Wilkinson
Interview with Michael Jarrett, songwriter, I'm Leavin'
Interview with James Burton
Interview with James Burton Sydney Australia 2006
James Burton : First Call For The Royalty Of Rockabilly
Interview with Ronnie Tutt
Interview with Ronnie Tutt #2
Interview with Jerry Scheff
Interview with Glen D. Hardin
Interview with Sherrill Nielsen
Interview with Terry Blackwood & Jim Murray
Interview with Tony Brown
Interview with Scotty Moore
Interview with D.J. Fontana
Interview with Charlie Hodge
Interview with Ernst Jorgensen