Roy Rogers - The Guitarist, Not The Cowboy - Should Be Better Known
Blues aficionados know very well that guitarist Roy Rogers is a virtuoso and deserves more recognition. Among the artists that are aware enough of Rogers' great playing to have collaborated with him or had him perform in their bands are John Lee Hooker, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Norton Buffalo, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Elvin Bishop, Carlos Santana, and Steve Miller.
He has a connection to the better known namesake, since he was named after Roy Rogers the film and TV singing cowboy. This Roy Rogers was born in Redding, California in 1950 and started playing guitar at the age of 12. A year later he was in a gold lamé jacketed rock band playing covers of Little Richard and Chuck Berry tunes - but then his big brother brought home a Robert Johnson record. Slide guitar became Rogers' main love and he has become a true master of multiple styles of slide.
Rogers played with a number of groups though the 1960s and 70s and gained some success in a duo with harmonica player David Burgin, appearing with him in the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The early 1980s saw him form the Delta Rhythm Kings, play lots of clubs, more movie and television gigs and tour Europe with the San Francisco Blues Festival Revue.
Shortly after returning from Europe, Rogers was asked to join John Lee Hooker's Coast to Coast Blues Band. Hooker and Rogers developed a strong friendship and Hooker said of Rogers, "I just can't say enough good things about Roy. He plays so good. Some of the best slide I've heard, best Blues I've heard. He gets real deep and funky, and he masters whatever he plays."
Roy Rogers has been nominated for a number of Grammy Awards, winning several both as a solo artist and with people like John Lee Hooker and Ramblin' Jack Elliott. He is a regular at major festivals from New Orleans to Montreux and far beyond. I would call him a "player's player" who is beginning to get the wider recognition he has rightfully earned.