Elvis Presley: Meet The Memphis Horns That Joined the King on 3 Hit Songs

by Matthew Wilson

Fans may have flocked to Elvis Presley for his distinct voice and dance moves. But the King worked with some pretty talented musicians. Take the Memphis Horns for example. The two musicians joined Presley for three of his biggest songs, bringing their musical expertise.

The Memphis Horns were the sound behind Presley’s “Suspicious Minds,” “Kentucky Rain,” and the iconic “In the Ghetto.”

While Presley may have got the fame and credit, the King didn’t build his empire alone. And the Memphis Horns helped make the trio of songs into bonafide hits.

So who are the Memphis Horns? If you never heard of the duo, that would be Andrew Love and Wayne Jackson bringing you a blend of blues, soul, country, and rock ‘n roll all wound up into one. Love played the saxophone and Jackson was on the trumpet. And together, the Memphis Horns made a dual musical threat.

Elvis Presley and The Memphis Horns

The two were almost destined to play together. Both Love and Jackson were born only days apart, Love on November 21, 1941, and Jackson three days later on Nov. 24. Love found a well, love, for music while going to church as a child. Meanwhile, Jackson developed his trumpet skills while in a school band. Before they formed the Memphis Horns, Love worked at Willie Mitchell’s Hi Records and Jackson was part of a group called The Mar-Keys.

The duo met as adults when they started working at Stax label. Together, the Memphis Horns was born and became a bit of local celebrities. They played from Memphis all the way down to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, bringing their distinct blend. Of course, in those days, they hadn’t formed the Memphis Horns title yet. No, that came after performing with the late, great Otis Redding. The trio played the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.

Two years later, they left Stax to go independent. They worked for various artists on contract. Ultimately, that’s how they wound up with Presley at RCA in 1969. That year, the trio worked on three songs together that ended up being classics for Presley.

The duo ended up playing together for decades, winning awards, and working with various artists. Their music is still appreciated until this day. The Memphis Horns joined the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2008. In 2017, the duo joined the Memphis Music Hall of Fame as well. In 2012, Love passed away after retiring. Jackson followed him four years later, dying in 2016.