Ron Tutt, drummer for Elvis, Roy Orbison, Billy Joel and many more has passed away, aged 83

Ron Tutt, longtime drummer for Elvis Presley, and whose credits include Jerry Garcia, Billy Joel, Neil Diamond, Nancy Sinatra, The Beach Boys, Roy Orbison and many others has passed away aged 83.

Elvis Presley Enterprises announced the news of Tutt's passing via social media, stating "All of us with Elvis Presley Enterprises were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Ronnie Tutt. In addition to being a legendary drummer, he was a good friend to many of us here at Graceland."

While no cause of death was mentioned in the post, Ronnie is survived by his wife, Donna, who told TMZ that he died at home of natural causes, having suffered with a heart condition, adding "He couldn't play another drum lick".

Born in Dallas, Texas, Tutt became Elvis's drummer as a founding member of the TCB (Taking Care of Business) band in 1969 alongside guitarists James Burton and John Wilkinson, bassist Jerry Scheff and keyboard player Larry Muhoberac. The King put together the group as his backing band for the start of his legendary run in Las Vegas, and the band remained with him until his death in 1977, when the group also disbanded.

During these years, Tutt, Burton and Muhoberac were enlisted by Johnny Cash and producer Gary Klein to record his album, John R Cash, as well as forming the Jerry Garcia Band with the Grateful Dead frontman. Tutt also played drums for Neil Diamond, as well as Billy Joel, recording drums on The Piano Man and Streetlife Serenade, including hits singles, Piano Man, The Ballad of Billy The Kid and The Entertainer. 

Tutt told Rolling Stone in 2017, “I just remember the good things, that’s for sure. You got to,” he said. “I just remember laughing a lot and having a good time musically, so I have nothing but good memories.” 

Stars pay tribute to Ron Tutt

Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.