Ron Tutt was an incredible drummer who sat at the height of his career in the 70s and 80s. He’s not as well-known as many of the drummers that were around at the same time, but that’s mainly due to his name being out shadowed by the massive artists that he played with.
Many people consider him underrated because of that, but there are plenty of Ron Tutt fans out there, including us. In this brief drummer profile, we’ll explain all the contributions that Ron Tutt made to the music industry, and we’ll elaborate a bit on his playing style and why it was so valued by mega artists.
- 1 Notable For
- 2 History
- 3 Notable Artists That Drummer Ron Tutt Has Played With
- 4 Drumming Style
- 5 Gear
- 6 Notable Performances
- 7 Final Thoughts on Ron Tutt
- Drumming for Elvis Presley, who is one of the most famous singers of all time
- Being an in-demand country and pop session drummer after his time with Elvis
- Contributing drum parts to albums that sold millions
- Being a big influence in the country drumming scene
Ron Tutt was born in Dallas, Texas, which is primarily where his love for country music came from. He was incredibly gifted in the musical sense, as he was able to play multiple instruments when he was a child.
He only started playing drums at the age of 17, but he made it his career after school. There isn’t too much known about what he did and who he played with in his 20s, but he got his big break when he joined Elvis Presley’s band in 1969.
He played with the band until Elvis Presley died in 1977, and he joined Neil Diamond’s touring and recording band after that.
These are two of the biggest singing celebrities to come from that era, which is why Ron Tutt is such a significant drumming personality.
He played with several other big pop and country artists throughout his career, but Neil Diamond and Elvis Presley were the two big ones.
Sadly, he died at the age of 83 in 2021 due to a heart condition.
Notable Artists That Drummer Ron Tutt Has Played With
Elvis Presley held absolute monster popularity when he was performing in the 70s. This means that he could have picked any drummer in the world to play with him at the time. He chose Ron Tutt after watching him play at an audition, and the rest was history.
Elvis stated that Tutt was one of the few drummers to focus on what he did on stage, and he always tried to complement it with his drumming. This led to Ron Tutt’s distinct playing style that he took with him to other artists.
He regularly played drum solos at Elvis concerts, and his name started to gain major traction when he was playing for Elvis.
When Elvis Presley died, Ron Tutt became a regular drummer for Neil Diamond. While Elvis’s style was exciting and unpredictable, Neil Diamond was more rehearsed and in control. Tutt stated that it brought out more discipline in his playing.
He continued to play drums for Diamond for live shows a few years before he died. Neil would make a big fuss about Tutt being on the drums, and it became an exciting feature of every live gig.
Billy Joel is yet another big name that Ron Tutt played drums for. He tracked the drum parts for Piano Man and Streetlife Serenade, which were the albums that skyrocketed Billy Joel’s popularity.
The song, Piano Man, in particular, became a major hit, with Ron Tutt providing laidback drum grooves under the vocals and instrumental parts.
Ron Tutt did quite a bit of touring with Jerry Garcia while Elvis Presley was still alive. He tracked drums for the albums, Compliments, Reflections, Cats Under the Stars, and Run for the Roses.
He toured with the artist for about four years, and he made a brief return a few years later to work on that last album that we mentioned.
Ron Tutt’s playing style was largely based on the way that Elvis Presley performed. He would do a lot of sharp movements with his dance moves, and Ron Tutt would accent those by playing quick hits on the cymbals and musical rolls around the toms.
He brought this playing style along when he played with other artists, and it led to some very exciting drum partsbeing created.
However, he was also incredibly musical, and he always played what the song needed. That’s why he tracked several albums for highly popular artists. His drumming was reliable, and he always provided just what was needed for the singers to still have the spotlight.
Ron Tutt played a wide array of drum brands throughout his career. This included kits from Rogers, Tama, Ludwig, and DW. He was mostly seen playing DW drums throughout the 2000s until his death.
He was also a big user of Paiste cymbals, mostly using the brand’s Reflector Series throughout the 80s.
Ronnie Tutt Drum Solo in 1977
Ron Tutt regularly played drum solos during Elvis’s concerts. It’s quite surreal, as Elvis was the biggest showman in the world at the time. The fact that he gave the spotlight to Tutt in his own show was proof of how much he respected him as his drummer. And, of course, Tutt always nailed the solos.
Patch It Up – Elvis Presley
Here’s a clip of Ron Tutt going crazy behind the kit during an Elvis gig. His drumming style fitted the music perfectly. It was chaotic, exciting, and a whole lot of fun at all times.
The clip also shows how Ron Tutt was an expert at following Elvis’s lead, and that was a big reason for Elvis hiring him as his drummer.
Neil Diamond with Ron Tutt in 2015
Ron Tutt was able to rip it up on the kit, even in his old age. He became a primary feature of Neil Diamond concerts for many years, and this is a clip from the perspective of someone in the crowd.
Final Thoughts on Ron Tutt
The fact that Ronnie Tutt played drums for Billy Joel, Neil Diamond, and Elvis Presley makes him one of the most successful drummers to ever play the instrument. The reach that he got with his drumming was massive, and every one of those superstar artists really valued his playing.
While Ron Tutt may be considered an underrated drummer, he definitely wasn’t in the eyes of the performers who hired him. He lived a good and long life, playing drums all around the world.