Entertainment Music

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Jerry Carrigan, drummer for Elvis Presley and other stars, dies aged 75

The veteran also played in the support band for The Beatles at their first US concert.

Elvis Presley (PA)
Elvis Presley (PA)

By Kristin M. Hall, Associated Press

Jerry Carrigan, a drummer who played for Elvis Presley and also in the support act for The Beatles in their first US concert, has died aged 75.

Carrigan was in the first rhythm section for FAME Studio in Muscle Shoals and later an in-demand session player in Nashville, Tennessee.

His cousin, Tom Carrigan, said he learned of Carrigan’s death last Thursday, but he did not know the exact date of his death in Chattanooga.

Alabama-born Carrigan was just a teenager when he and his friends David Briggs, who played piano, and Norbert Putnam, who played bass, helped to create the Muscle Shoals sound under the guidance of producer Rick Hall.

Putnam said they played on some of the earliest FAME records, including Arthur Alexander’s You Better Move On, whose songs caught the attention of The Beatles.

That led to Carrigan getting to play in the Muscle Shoals back-up band that opened for The Beatles on their first US concert in Washington DC in 1964, said Putnam.

Later the three Alabama musicians moved to Nashville, where they became some of the most in-demand session players in Nashville, a group which is commonly called the Nashville Cats.

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Jerry Carrigan also had a supporting role at the first US concert for The Beatles (Peter Byrne/PA)

He became a prolific musician, playing for Elvis, George Jones, Kenny Rogers, Porter Wagoner and more.

Putnam said on Tuesday that the Nashville session musicians in the 70s had to be versatile and Carrigan worked on everything from big band music to composer Henry Mancini to JJ Cale and Tony Joe White.

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum lists some of his credits as Bobby Bare’s Marie Laveau, Waylon Jennings’s Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line, George Jones’ He Stopped Loving Her Today, Jerry Lee Lewis’ Middle Aged Crazy, Jerry Reed’s When You’re Hot, You’re Hot, Charlie Rich’s Behind Closed Doors, Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler, Ray Stevens’ Everything Is Beautiful, and Tony Joe White’s Polk Salad Annie.

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