Ronnie Tutt, the drummer who played on Billy Joel’s signature hit "Piano Man" and also was Elvis Presley's longtime drummer, has died. He was 83.
"I'm very sad to hear of the death of Ronnie Tutt," Joel posted on Instagram Sunday. "He played on the original recording of 'Piano Man' in 1973 and most of the other songs on that album. Ron was a power drummer who also played with finesse. His timing was impeccable and he played his drum parts to the lyrics, as well as the music in any song he played on. His live performances with Elvis Presley were legendary. He will be greatly missed."
Tutt played drums on every song on Joel's 1973 album "Piano Man" except "Captain Jack," which used Rhys Clark, and on all 10 songs on Joel's 1974 "Streetlife Serenade," including the Top 40 single "The Entertainer."
Tutt's daughter, Terie Tutt, on Sunday announced her father's death. "It's with deep sadness that my family and I share the loss of our beloved dad," she wrote on Facebook. "The Legendary Drummer, Ronnie Tutt, ‘has left the building,’ " she wrote, using a phrase associated with Presley. "He passed away at home surrounded by his family."
His wife, Donna, told TMZ.com on Monday that Tutt had a longtime heart condition and died of natural causes at home in Franklin, Tennessee.
Ronald Ellis Tutt was born March 12, 1938, in Dallas, Texas, the son of cleaning manager Frank Tutt and his wife, Gipsy Tutt. He played the violin and the ukulele while in grade school, and later the trumpet before turning to drums.
"All of us with Elvis Presley Enterprises were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Ronnie Tutt," announced the organization that runs the late Presley's home and museum, Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee. Calling Tutt "a legendary drummer," the statement said Saturday, "We enjoyed each time he joined us here to celebrate Elvis Week, Elvis' Birthday and many other special occasions. Ronnie was an amazing ambassador to Elvis' legacy," it said, adding, "Our hearts go out to Donna, his family, his fellow TCB Band members — and to his fans around the world. He will be deeply missed by all of us."
Tutt played drums as part of Presley's TCB (Takin' Care of Business) Band, formed in 1969 for the singer's Las Vegas opening, and remained through Presley's death in 1977. "Rest In Peace my friend," tweeted Presley's ex-wife, Priscilla Presley. "Your sweet soul and great talent captured us all. Elvis always bragged how you intuitively could keep up with his stage moves. Even when he tried to trick you. :) My heart goes out to you Donna for your loss."
Tutt later toured with Neil Diamond's band and also recorded and performed with stars including Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello, Glen Campbell, Michael McDonald, Stevie Nicks, Kenny Rogers and others.
"The legendary Ron Tutt has passed away," tweeted Diamond. "It's been my privilege to share the stage with Ronnie for more than 40 years. He was truly one of the all-time greats in Rock and Roll. God bless you, Ronnie. Give my regards to Elvis. We love you, Ronnie."
The Twitter account for the late Roy Orbison noted that Tutt was the drummer for the acclaimed 1988 "Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night" Cinemax concert special.