Gordon Stoker, the lead tenor in the Jordanaires vocal group that backed Elvis Presley, died Wednesday at his home in Brentwood, Tenn., after a lengthy illness, his son, Alan, told the Associated Press. He was 88.
Stoker joined the Jordanaires in 1950, two years after they formed in Missouri. He originally played piano for the group. They caught the attention of Presley in the mid-1950s when they performed with Eddy Arnold at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.
When Presley burst onto the national scene in 1956 on Steve Allen's TV show, Stoker and the Jordanaires were with him. They also sang on the original New York RCA studios recordings of "Hound Dog," "Don't Be Cruel" and other hits.
The gospel harmony quartet, whose lineup changed over the years, performed as Presley's primary backup on stage and in the studio until 1968. The singers can be heard on "It's Now or Never," "Are You Lonesome Tonight?," "Teddy Bear" and "Don't," among others. Their film appearances with Presley in the '50s and '60s included "King Creole," "G.I. Blues" and "Girls! Girls! Girls!"