See that guy behind Fancy Spanglestein? That, Enthusiasts, is Ronnie Tutt; he is a motherfucker. Do not bring your mother around Ronnie Tutt, unless you want her to be fucked. Ronnie Tutt was born in Dallas, Texas, and he might be one of the great American drummers. Ronnie played in Garcia’s best solo band, the short-lived Legion of Mary, and his second-best band, the one with Nicky Hopkins.
Ronnie Tutt also played sessions. You are intimately familiar with him even if this is the first time you’ve heard his name. Piano Man. You’ve heard it once or twice? Ronnie Tutt. He also played for the Carpenters, which breaks my heart because I thought Karen did the drumming. You lied to me, Carpenters. (Although that does make the story about John Bonham flying into a rage when she beat him in some “Best Drummer” poll even funnier.)
And he drummed for Elvis. Ronnie Tutt was in the King’s vast Vegas band from the first show in ’69 to the last tour in ’77, and Elvis keyed in on him throughout the show, and Ronnie Tutt watches Elvis right back so that when the King demonstrates karate, he has a proper soundtrack.
When Elvis died, Ronnie Tutt went to work for Neil Diamond and hasn’t left since; from interviews with him, the job seems like a good fit. Ronnie Tutt appreciates professionalism, and one gets a sense that he was completely sick of Garcia’s hippie bullshit within weeks of forming the LoM. (When Ronnie Tutt asked John Kahn when band practice was, John Kahn responded with, “Practice? We’re talking about practice? Not a show. Not a show, but practice?) Neil also lets him sing, which Ronnie Tutt loves to do.
“WE TALKIN’ ‘BOUT HARD-WORKIN’ RONNIE TUTT?”
Oh, good. You’re back.
“AH AM WELCOMED EV’RYWHERE, AN’ SOMETIMES PEOPLE GIMME STUFF.”
“RONNIE TUTT WAS TH’ MOST POWERFULLEST DRUMMER EVER DONE COME OUTTA TEXAS. HE SOUNDED LIKE A FREIGHT TRAIN WITH A BONER, BOY.”
“AH WOULD OFTEN HAVE HIM SET UP HIS DRUMS IN MAH BOO-DWAH AT GRACELAND.”
“SO HE COULD MUSICALLY ACCOMPANY MAH LOVEMAKIN’. MADE IT SOUND REAL DRAMATIC. LIKE AH WAS SOME SORTA SEX DINOSAUR.”
You just popping in or are you back for a while?
“TH’ FUTURE GONNA DO WHAT TH’ FUTURE GONNA DO.”
True. Elvis, did Ronnie Tutt ever sing backup for you?
“SINGIN’ DRUMMERS? AIN’T GONNA BE NO SINGIN’ DRUMMERS AT TH’ KING’S SHOW, BOY. THERE’S TWO DOZEN SINGERS IN TH’ BAND ALREADY.”