DJ Fontana, the sole surviving member of Elvis Presley‘s band, has died at the age of 87.
The drummer, real name Dominic Joseph Fontana, kept the beat on more than 450 of The King’s iconic tracks – including Jailhouse Rock and Hound Dog.
Announcing Fontana’s death, his son Dave wrote on Facebook: “I told everyone that I would keep you posted. My Dad passed away in his sleep at 9:33 tonight.
“He was very comfortable with no pain. I will post more tomorrow when I have more information. We ask for privacy at this time. Thank you for your love and prayers.”
As well as featuring on a string of Elvis’ most famous hits, Fontana also appeared on the legendary 1968 comeback special.
He began his career as a drummer on the Louisiana Hayride – a radio programme that provided a platform for some of country’s biggest names.
But he got his big break in 1954 when Elvis appeared on the show and Fontana was asked to play with him, before becoming a full-time band mamber,
He recorded his first songs with Elvis in January 1956, appearing on tracks including Heartbreak Hotel. He played with The King for 14 years.
Fontana left the band in 1969 after a pay dispute with the icon’s famously tough manager Colonel Tom Parker.
Paying tribute on Facebook, Elvis’ hairstylist Larry Geller wrote: ” I’m deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my friend DJ Fontana.
“With the sadness, though, comes a flood of wonderful memories from over the years, as we shared many great moments. DJ was not only a legendary drummer but a close and dear friend to Elvis.”