He was a session player within the Motown World and the regular drummer for 'The Sweet Inspirations' playing the warm up sessions before the starts of the show. Jerome filled in for Ronnie Tutt for three shows between December 1975 and June 1977. 'Stump' Munroe played with Elvis in Philadelphia in 1971, Las Vegas December 1975 and finally in Madison on June 24th 1977. He was the ideal choice as he knew Elvis' routine and was introduced on stage as 'Stump' by Elvis when it came to band introductions to the audience.
Interview with Gerome “Stump “ Monroe
Joe Krein . How you doing Stump?
Stump- I’m fine how about your self?
JK-I’m good thank you. . Stump where were you born and raised?
Stump – I was born in Washington D.C. in 1944.
JK – I have to ask you Stump how did you get the nickname “Stump” ?
Stump – Well that’s weird, I used to play in a band back in Washington and they just started to call me Stump and it stuck with me all these years. You know That was back when I was fourteen or fifteen years old. I guess because I’m short.
JK – Is that what it is
Stump – Well I guess that’s what is was, I don’t know I didn’t name myself. The guys I played with named me that and it stuck with me. Elvis asked me the same thing.
JK – I’m sure he did. Stump what were your early influences in music?
Stump- Well I was listening to music like the Four Tops , Temptations , Marvin Gay , Dee Clark , Wilson Picket . You know.
Jk – Wow great. So were you an Elvis Fan?
Stump – When I first started I wasn’t. No
JK- You just didn’t like his kind of music?
Stump – Well its not that its just I wasn’t playing it. I was playing RB music. So that’s what I listened to . But after I got with the Elvis show, I used to watch his shows all the time. When ever the Sweets got through performing I would watch the show and I would come to find out he was a very good singer, great entertainment. You know your not going to find one else like him. There will never be another Elvis.
JK – So how did you get into the music business?
Stump – That’s funny that you asked that. I started playing in my basement. I would take a 45 record like James Brown, but I would play it on a 78 speed. I would play along with it . My Mom bought me a set of toy drums and I used to be down in the basement banging on them all the time. I taught myself how to play.
JK - So when did you get your first drum set ?
Stump – I guess I was around thirteen or fourteen. They threw me out into the garage.
JK – Because you were to load?
Stump – Yeah because the music was to load. But then I would have all my neighbors come out and listen to me. So I just kept playing . So that’s how I started playing by listening to records and the washing machine had a rhythm to it .
JK – Ok
Stump – So I would play along with the washing machine , but I would play a different rhythm against it.
JK – Do you play any other instruments?
Stump – No I tried guitar and the bass but it hurt my hands so I said forget it. So I just started playing drums.
JK – How did you start playing for the Sweet Inspirations? How did that come about?
Stump – Well that was a long time ago , I was with Martha reeves and the Vendellas .
JK – ok I need to get back to work
Really? Wow! I’m a big fan .
Stump . Guitar player Gravy Jackson was with the Sweet Inspirations in the Elvis Show too. He needed a drummer. He used to like the way I played so he came and asked me to play with the Sweets. So I told him yes . The first gig we did was in Atlanta Georgia at the James Brown Night Club that James had down there. So the first person that was doing the show down there was I think. Not Jackie Wilson. I cat remember now but it was somebody big. A big star like Marvin Gay , It was neither one of them but it was a big star. Wow man I’m getting to see these people I used to play with . I would see them at the Apollo. It was something else seeing these people perform . Not that people don’t perform now but it was different then.
JK – You must have some great memories Stump.
Stump – Life is nothing but Memories.
JK – Let me understand this . The Sweets were already with Elvis when you started to play with the Sweets?
Stump – No I was with the Sweets twelve years .
JK – Ok
Stump – The Sweet Inspirations , We used to go over to Germany , Trinidad and perform all the time. Then they came up to me and said Elvis wanted us to perform with him. I said wow that’s a big deal he’s the greatest. He was the only star that I knew that was that big. So we got with Elvis . I used to play with Joe Gurrcio and the sweet Inspirations , JD Sumner . At the time they were named Voice and then the Imperials. So I used to play for all them. Mr. Tom Disken said to me you know we need a drummer to play for everybody. I said for everybody? We had three drummers on the show. Ronnie wasn’t going no where, so it was between me and Billy Blackwood. I think that’s who it was. So they picked me as the second drummer. I played for nine years. I was with the Sweets for twelve years . I just stayed with it . After a while I got to know what Elvis was all about. He was a hell of an entertainer and a very nice person. To me he was . I’m not saying he was like that with everybody. People are like that . If they don’t like somebody there not nice to them . But to me , The experience I had with the man. He really treated me good. I really enjoyed working with him.
Stump – Stump can you tell me the first time you met Elvis?
Stump – I think the first time I met him , I think was 1970. I think it was that. He was downstairs in the Hilton. He had a black hat on with a black coat that looked like a cape ., I mean he was cool looking. I looked at him and I said woe! Now don’t get me wrong. im not Gay . I’m all man but I have to admit one thing . That was the only man that I have ever seen that looked that nice.. I mean he was cool looking. But I’ve never been that type of person that was a friend of somebody and you just have to touch them. Ive met people like Sammy. He came to my house for dinner. I’ve met a whole lot of big stars . Wilson Pickett a whole bunch of them. But nobody ever grabbed me a certain way. Elvis grabbed me a certain way I mean when I looked at me. He used to come and talk to me before he went on stage . I said hey Elvis how you doing? We would shake each other’s hands. But he could look right threw you. That’s the way I felt. He would look right threw me. Like he had a certain kind of power you know.
JK – Can you remember any of the things that you used to talk about? The show or the attendance?
Stump – Well manly about the show. If it was a good show. The audience. The crowd of fans. He loved his fans. He would always worry about how his fans felt. If they were enjoying the show. But he had nothing to worry about . Because every show that man did a show except when he started to get sick.
JK – Now what was your roll for the show? You played with the Sweets and if you were needed you would play for Ronnie Tutt.
Stump – Well my job was playing the first opening number for Jackie Kahane or Sammy Shore who ever it was. They would do there show . JD Sumner and then we would come on the Sweets. We were like co-stars . Then Elvis would come on. They would take an intermission, then Elvis would come on. I wouldn’t play be hide Elvis. That was never even in my mind. I said me play behind Elvis. No way. Ronnie was a mad man. He was a very good drummer. He showed me how to hold my sticks a certain way so I would not get sores on my hands. So I really respect what Ronnie taught me. So I never thought I would ever play behind Elvis. I would play for anyone else but Elvis , Me no way. So when they came up to me and told me that , II mean I almost fainted. I was so nervous that my legs were shaking , that the high hats. The two cymbals that my feet are on.
Stump– They were playing by them selves. I mean that’s how bad I was shaking. I had no rehearsal or anything with Elvis. I was going on stage and play cold. He had me do it three times so I was ok for him.
JK – Do you remember the reasons why?
Stump – One time I know Ronnie’s wife had a baby.
JK – That was in Las Vegas 1975
Stump –Other times I don’t remember. But it was Three times. I was one of the last drummers that played behind him.
JK – It was Philadelphia 1971 because Ronnie had the flu. Las Vegas 1975 because Ronnie’s wife had a baby . Madison Wisconsin in 1977 because of a family emergency.
Stump – That’s what it was?
JK – Yes I did some homework.
Stump – They didn’t tell me why. I just came off the stage from the Sweets show and somebody said you have to play behind Elvis. I said no don’t do that to me! You have to get ready to play behind him. Like I said I was very scared. I could have had a heart attack.
JK – What did Elvis say to you? Your be fine Stump don’t worry about it?
Stump – He said you just go out there and play and watch me. He told me to watch him. Keep your eyes on me. That’s what I did I watched Elvis. I watched his head, his hands . I watched his behind because I didn’t know what to watch. Elvis moved everything. I mean everything would be moving. So I didn’t know what to watch. All I know is he did a a karate thing. So I would try and catch it the best way I could do it.. I heard Ronnie took Karate lessons with Elvis so that’s how he knew all that stuff.
JK – So how did Vegas differ from Tahoe and for being on tour? I mean a lot of the people that interviewed Stump said that they preferred Tahoe over Vegas because it was more laid back. That Elvis enjoyed it better because it was a smaller venue. So I was wondering if you felt the same?
Stump – Well I think I was Tahoe that Elvis got sick or something and we had to play without him. I think that was Tahoe. He seemed like he enjoyed it but he seemed like he enjoyed Vegas too. We had a good time. We had a whole lot of people on the show. I didn’t see one argument in that group. I’m looking at a picture right now with everybody in it. The band and all the singers and they really got along. That was the only show that I was with that there was not trouble with anybody. I played behind a whole lot of different people.
JK – So you have seen a lot of arguments in others bands?
Stump – Yeah you always have a problem with this person. Or that person doesn’t like how much this person is making. But we never went threw that with the Elvis Show. You just go and do your job and that was it. I could talk to Elvis. I would go up and talk and he even took a ring off his finger. It was a black Sapphire with four diamonds. I will never forget it. He took it off and he put it on my hand. I said you don’t have to do that Elvis. He said no I want you to have it. He gave me that and he gave me a cross with eleven diamonds. I was sick one time on the road and I got on the show bus and they put me back in my room. I was really sick . It was something with my colon. He sent me a gold cross with eleven diamonds in it. That was the kind of person he was. He told his Dr. To go up stairs and see about me. That’s how he was.
JK – Stump do you have a TCB?
Stump – I had a TCB but I sold it.
JK – Do you still have the ring?
Stump – No I bought a house with the ring. You know you run into different things in life. I always believed that all the things that Elvis gave us, you keep them. But he gave them to us because he knew we were not millionaires.
JK- Right and if you need it you need it.
Stump – Right that’s the way I look at it.
JK- You know what I thought was interesting about Elvis was he shared the stage with everybody. He made sure all the fans knew your names. He shared the stage.
Stump – He wasn’t like performers now days. Now I’m not knocking anybody. But they do not share the stage like Elvis did. He would talk about Ronnie Tutt and Jerry Sheff and James Burtin like they were the show. You see what I’m saying? He would say my name and say Son you can play. He would give me publicity from it.
JK – Stump do you have any funny stories you can tell the listeners ’s about any of the shows with Elvis? Do you have any stories you like to tell people?
Stump – One show I was back stage at the Hilton with the bodyguards. So I was standing back there and I stepped on Elvis Microphone cord. I’m not lying when I stepped on it . It did something to the cord and looked. Everybody back there scattered. He had a look that I never seen. I’ve been around the world. That man had a look. I still have his picture that I am looking at right now. I can see him just a plain. I always keep his picture up on my wall. Sometimes when I get down, I will look at him and he brings me back up.
JK – He has done that many times in my life as well Stump.
Stump – Well like I said life is nothing but a memory, and I’ve had some very good memories in my life.
JK – Yes you have. What did you think about Colonel Parker? Did you ever have any run ins with him?
Stump – I never had a problem with the Colonel. He tried to hypnotize me when I talked to him. But he did nothing to me.
JK – What he tried to hypnotize you?
Stump – Yeah he wanted to do it before I played behind Elvis. He knew going out there playing those drums. I mean Ronnie Tutt is Ronnie. You know what I mean. Nobody will be able to play like Ronnie Tutt. Ronnie is a great drummer I respect him to the highest. So I didn’t go out and try to play like Ronnie. All I wanted to do is do some hits like he did and play 2001 , and CC Rider like the way I had to do that because the band had to go into the song .. I had to try and remember everything let me tell I would not wish it on anybody.
JK – Stump how did you find out Elvis had passed?
Stump – I was on the TCB plane , it was a private plane we had . We landed someplace. You have to understand its been many years and I’ve had two strokes since then .
JK – I understand
Stump – My memory sometimes is not that good. So we landed at the airport and we were on the ground and went into the airport. Someone said Elvis was in the hospital. I said don’t go playing like that. We were going some place on a tour. I think it was Portland Maine something like that I could be wrong. .
Anyway they were saying he was in the hospital. So we stayed on the ground and we stayed there and we later found out that Elvis had died and nobody could believe it. Everybody just walked around crying and stuff. It took me about two years to believe Elvis was gone. I didn’t want to believe it. I cried so many times and I thought about everything we did and the show. Then you have to think of what your going to do now. I was with that show for nine years. What am I going to do now. I never even thought about leaving the show.
JK – What did you do after Elvis?
Stump – After Elvis stayed in Vegas and played with the Flamingoes. “I Will Only Have Eyes For You” I played with those cats. Like right now I play with “A Touch Of Silk”. We formed the group from the Flamingoes. So we formed a group. I got married. I’m happy
JK – There you go. Now did you go to the funeral?
Stump – No. I will tell you. I can’t handle funerals. I am the type of person that I don’t want to see some body I love or that I know in a casket. To me, now this is my opinion. Everybody has the right to feel the way they want to feel. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. A person in a casket is bad for me. I don’t like to see that. I like to remember Elvis walking around and joking like he used to do.
JK – Stump what do you think of the everlasting popularity of Elvis Presley?
Stump – I think its crazy . Rick is a good friend of mine. He says Stump you did something there not to many people can say they did it. Like Man ! Wow! Your one of the last drummers that played with him. He did two songs that he never did after I played behind him.
JK – What songs? Do you remember?
‘Love Me Tender ‘was one of them I forgot the other. I was the last person to play them songs behind him. And I say wow. Larry London took my place. I was playing a show and my hand started to bleed so I went to Elvis and said it was to much for me. You play behind Elvis its like two days work. He would just drain you .He was doing something all the time. And would never stop hardly. He would have Ronnie Tutt working so hard. I used to feel sorry for Ronnie.
JK- you saw a lot of shows. This is a little out of order . Stump was there a particular show that you liked the most? Was there something about a show that made it your favorite?
Stump – All the shows. I don’t have one favorite. I would not just get off work and just leave I would stay and see his show. I know he used to clown , he would lay down on the floor and joke with the people. To me Elvis was a big kid. He enjoyed life , he liked to have fun. He used to give parties up stairs in the Crown room. If somebody didn’t go he would ask you why you dint come? He would have important people up there Rachel Welch , Sammy Davis . He didn’t say hey you’re a musician you can be around my people. That’s why respected him so much he treated you like a human being. There’s something I would like to get out and off my chest.
JK- sure go ahead
Stump – I heard years ago that Elvis said that all black people could shine his shoes. That’s what I hear from my people. They are wrong! Elvis would not say that. He wasn’t a prejudice person , he was a good hearted person. You would have to get to know Elvis. Just because you did a recording session with him does not mean you got to know Elvis.
JK- Stump was there a time? Now this just may TV. But was a time when you all went to a hotel that would not let the sweets stay at it so Elvis would not stay at it because of it? Was there ever a problem like that?
Stump – I don’t know about that. There was nothing like that when I was with him.
JK – OK it might be TV you know how they make things.
Stump – Well maybe it was im just saying as far as I know it did not happen. I know me and JD used to saty in trouble all the time. We would do stuff like this. We were playing Madison Square Garden, we had gotten off the bus. I hope I don’t get in trouble for this. But we used to get off the bus and direct traffic in New York City.Yeah and the Police wanted to lock us up. Mr. Diskin said you don’t want to do that to the Policemen. But we were running late. So JD and me got off the bus to direct traffic. That sounds crazy to you but we used to do stuff like that.
JK- how was it playing at Madison Square Garden?
Stump – It was crazy, there were a whole lot of people. I always wanted to play there. I think we played every coliseum in the United States. We never got the chance to go over seas and play . But I have played in a show for the three years in Germany Sweden Denmark. I play in an Elvis Show trying to keep the name alive. And the music. I really enjoy it I really do.
JK- Did Elvis ever talk to you and say he wanted to go over seas.
Stump – He never told me. Nothing like that. But I heard that he wanted too. I don’t know if the Colonel didn’t want him to go. I’m pretty sure he wanted to do that because he played everyplace in the United States and the people just loved him. He loved the fans he always wanted to satisfy the fans.
JK – Well Stump I want to thank you for doing this .for Elvis Online. Is there anything you would like to say to the readers?
Stump – Keep his name and his legacy alive. Keep doing what your doing. I really didn’t know how big he was until I started traveling over seas. They really appreciate Elvis over there.
JK – Thank You Stump.
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