Joe Moscheo, Gospel Singer Who Backed Elvis Presley, Dead at 78

Gospel Music Hall of Fame Member Enjoyed Later Career as Music Executive

Joe Moscheo, whose long career in music included singing with Elvis Presley as a member of the gospel group, the Imperials, died Monday (Jan. 11) in Nashville at the age of 78.

Joe Moscheo

A member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, Moscheo also had deep roots in country music via his 16-year tenure as an executive of the BMI performance rights organization, where he ascended to the position of vice president of special projects.

Moscheo was born Aug. 11, 1937, in Albany, New York, the son of Italian immigrants. Following the example of his father, a government worker turned preacher, Moscheo quit college in 1960 to join a gospel quartet. Four years later, he moved on to become a singer, keyboard player and arranger for the Imperials.

In addition to performing and recording with Presley over a span that ranged from the mid-60s to the early ‘70s, the Imperials also backed such headliners as Jimmy Dean, Roy Clark, Carol Channing and Pat Boone.

Following his work at BMI, which extended from 1978 to 1994, Moscheo formed a management companies whose clients included Wynonna and Naomi Judd, Michael English and BeBe and CeCe Winans.

In 1996, he launched the entertainment division for First Union Bank in Nashville.

He reunited with the Imperials in 1998 to tour with the stage show “Elvis: The Concert,” a production that featured Presley’s recorded voice and image in conjunction with live musicians.

Prior to being sidelined by a degenerative neurological disorder a few years ago, Moscheo served on the boards of the Recording Academy (dispenser of the Grammy awards), the Gospel Music Association and the W.O. Smith Community Music School in Nashville.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.