Born Bob Loyce Moore, 30 November 1932, Nashville, Tennessee
Bassist / orchestra leader / arranger / producer.
Bob Moore is one of the most recorded instrumentalists in music history, having performed on over 17,000 documented recording sessions. He is generally considered to be among the greatest bass players of all time, not just in the country field, but in popular music in general. A native of Nashville, Moore learned to play bass from Jack Drake, Ernest Tubb's bass player. At fifteen, he began working professsionally, joining the band of the Grand Ole Opry comedy team Jamup & Honey. He went on to back Little Jimmy Dickens, Red Foley and Marty Robbins on tour, but this involved a lot of travelling and when Decca's A&R man Owen Bradley offered him a regular job as a studio musician in 1952, Moore settled down as a session player. As such he became one of Nashville's busiest session bassists for the next three decades. He has contributed to countless # 1 country hits, but also to many pop hits. Taking just the years 1959-61, he can be heard on the following US number one pop hits : "A Big Hunk O'Love", "Stuck On You", "It's Now Or Never", "Are You Lonesome Tonight", "Surrender" (all by Elvis Presley), "El Paso" (Marty Robbins), "Teen Angel" (Mark Dinning), "The Three Bells" (The Browns), "I'm Sorry" and "I Want To Be Wanted" (Brenda Lee), "Running Scared" (Roy Orbison) and "Wooden Heart" (Joe Dowell). However, the claims made in this discography http://www.nashvillesound.net/current/discography_new.htm are exaggerated : Moore did not play on "A White Sport Coat", "Young Love", "Teddy Bear", "The Battle of New Orleans", "Big Bad John" and several other titles mentioned there. (Now I can probably expect an angry mail from Kittra Moore, Bob's wife.)
Moore was a key member of the Nashville A-Team, a core group of first call studio musicians that began to coalesce in the 1950s. About the only major Nashville act he didn't work with is the Everly Brothers, who usually used Lightnin' Chance. His rockabilly/R&R track record is impressive too, playing on numerous high voltage sessions by the Johnny Burnette Trio, Janis Martin, Johnny Carroll, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ronnie Self, Johnny Horton, Conway Twitty, Melvin Endsley, Autry Inman, Wanda Jackson, Moon Mullican, George Jones ("White Lightning") and others. Bob Moore was a hidden partner in Monument Records, a Nashville label founded by Fred Foster in 1958. Moore brought Roy Orbison to Monument in 1959, arranged most of Orbison's early hits, including "Only the Lonely", and played on all of them. With Orbison as its mainstay, Monument quickly grew in stature, but Moore kept secret his 37 % stake in the label for fear of harming his standing among his fellow musicians. Eventually, around the time Orbison left Monument for MGM in 1965, he fell out with Foster and sold his share in the company.
Some of the Nashville session men recorded instrumental hits of their own. Among the brightest stars in this firmament were Chet 'Mr. Guitar' Atkins, Floyd 'Mr. Piano' Cramer and Boots 'Mr. Saxophone' Randolph. As an orchestra leader, Moore would also score a hit under his own name, with "Mexico", from the pen of Boudleaux Bryant. It was an international hit in 1961 (# 7 US, # 1 in Germany, Holland and Belgium). "Mexico" introduced the mariachi horn sounds to the record-buying public, a good year before Herb Alpert rekindled it on "The Lonely Bull", turning his studio group, the Tijuana Brass, into best-selling instrumentalists. "The Bob Moore Orchestra" was recruited from the Nashville A-Team, augmented by two trumpet players, Carl Gavin and Bill McElhiney, and a string section. The orchestra continued to make records for several years, first for Monument (1961-64) and then for Hickory (1965-68), but there were no further hits after "Mexico", neither in the USA nor elsewhere.
The 1960s were probably Moore's busiest decade. "In one year, I did almost 300 sessions just for Mercury Records alone - four (three-hour) dates a day, six or seven days a week", he recalls. Bob has kept records of all the sessions he played on, an important source for discographical research. The 1970s saw Bob gradually drifting away from country music, as more and more pop, rock and easy listening acts came to Nashville to record there. Among the artists who benefited from his studio work during this decade are Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Moby Grape, Harvey Mandel, Sammy Davis Jr., The Sir Douglas Quintet, Pearls Before Swine, J.J. Cale, Don McLean and Bill Medley (post-Righteous Brothers).
Content to work in the studios, Moore did venture on the odd tour, playing some high profile shows with Elvis Presley in 1960-61, and spent part of the '80s touring with Crystal Gayle and Jerry Lee Lewis (1983-85), for whom Moore produced the 'Rocket' LP in 1986.
Recent times have seen him and his fellow A-Teamers receive some long overdue recognition, for it was them as much as the artists that helped create Nashville's position on the musical map. A hand injury prompted Moore to retire from his long musical journey in the late 1980s. His career is best summed up by himself. "I can imagine how tragic it would be for a man to work all his life and not have access to what he did. I can turn on the car radio, and I can always hear me!"
Further acknowledgements : Rob Finnis, Wayne Jancik, Shaun Mather.
Discography of the Bob Moore Orchestra :
YouTube (Orchestra) :
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