“The rhythm guitar is John Wilkinson…” (1945-2013)

John Wilkinson and Elvis on stage, January 12, 1973

John Wilkinson and Elvis on stage, January 12, 1973

Sad news in the Elvis world. John Wilkinson, who played rhythm guitar for Elvis on stage from 1969 through 1977, passed away today, January 11, 2013. He was 67.

Wilkinson first joined Elvis Presley’s core rhythm group in July 1969 for the singer’s spectacular Las Vegas return to live performances. He went on to appear with Elvis in the concert documentary films That’s The Way It Is (1970) and Elvis On Tour (1972).

He also appeared in the Aloha From Hawaii (1973) television event – which celebrates its 40th anniversary on Monday. Wilkinson is prominently featured in the television special Elvis In Concert (1977) while playing “Early Morning Rain.”

Wilkinson performed on the Elvis In Person portion of the 1969 double album From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis and has been on scores of Elvis concert albums since that time.

In addition to his live work, Wilkinson played for Elvis in his 1972 and 1975 sessions at RCA’s Studio C in Hollywood as well as in his 1976 sessions at Graceland. Results of those sessions included singles “Burning Love” b/w “It’s A Matter Of Time” and “Separate Ways” b/w “Always On My Mind” and albums Elvis Today, From Elvis Presley Boulevard, and Moody Blue – the last LP released before Elvis’ death.

He remained with the stage band right until the end, through Elvis’ final concert on June 26, 1977, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

John Wilkinson in 1970

John Wilkinson in 1970

John Wilkinson is survived by his wife, Terry. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

Further Reading

Get well wishes to rhythm guitarist John Wilkinson [Update: Wilkinson home]

ElvisMatters reports that John Wilkinson, who played rhythm guitar from 1969 to 1977 for Elvis, is back in the hospital. Best wishes to John for a speedy recovery and a return home in time for Thanksgiving tomorrow. Read the full article on ElvisMatters: John Wilkinson back in hospital.

[November 28, 2010, UPDATE – Wilkinson is back home:

(A)fter a check-up and some pain relief medications, his doctors told him he was as healthy as could be ‘given the wear and tear and the mileage’. John is enjoying the company of his wife Terry and his two doggies – and like he told us on the phone: ‘a day without Elvis music is a day wasted.’ Even today, 33 years on, John listens to his idol/boss/friend every single day: ‘I loved him then, and I love him now. Some things will never change.'”

(Source: www.elvismatters.com)]