Name: Rodney Roach.
Born: Fall 1950 in Houston, Tx.
My 1st instrument was piano. I started lessons the summer of my 5th year. By the middle of my 6th year, I was beginning to compose some simple songs. I only had about 5 years of piano lessons, but next came much easier to carry instruments-guitar & steel guitar(lap 1st, pedal later) at 10 & 11 respectively. Some time in these early years, luck smiled upon me when I got a wonderful collection of old 78 rpm vinyl that my mother and her sister had collected thru the 1940's - a lot of big band jazz, with some nice pop blues & R&B discs. I got to listen to them for several years until we were forced to throw most of them away(mess of vinyl taking up too much space and cluttering up our bedroom. wry chuckle).I also started learning and playing my grandfather's harmonicas about the same time. My 1st pro(paying) gig was on steel guitar at 12 1/2. Electric bass guitar came into my life toward the end of my 15th year. My interest in recording also started about this time with my family's purchase of an early portable cassette recorder to record the bands(both live gigs and practices) my brother and I played in. Due to a rather strict family background, these bands were all country music with a bit of rockabilly; no rock & roll, jazz, or R&B for these closely watched boys. Not that we didn't sneak in some extended listening time with transistor radios and an earplug.
So it was regular band gigs as well as 1 or 2 pickup gigs a week with different musicians throughout high school(actually played a gig or two in rough parts of Houston on stages protected by chicken wire fencing). Now we arrive at my college years.
A music education was strongly discouraged(i.e., no parental economic help), so I basically wasted 3 interesting college years as a science major slipping into practice rooms to play grand pianos(my home piano was an upright; it was okay, but those grands were like heaven to me) before I said "Chunk this crap overboard". However, I also spent productive time learning folk and blues finger picking on acoustic guitar, as well as learning Hendrix riffs on electric guitar. So I quit college and continued studying music theory, harmony, orchestration, etc. on my own - I had delusions(chuckle) of becoming a well-known jazz pianist. It seems that since I was a National Merit Scholar as well as in 'Who's Who in American High School Students: 1968', my parents thought music was a less profitable field than science. Whereas, my viewpoint was illustrated by my thinking that my brother, an excellent guitarist, had wasted his talent by becoming a well-respected and published anesthesiologist specializing in heart surgery.
I had started college at UT in Austin, Tx(1 semester there) and returned to Austin as soon as I could(mid '72). Due to the move and lack of acquaitances in Austin, I had to work a regular job for a bit. However, I compensated by practicing piano 45-50 hours a week, learning B.B. King riffs on electric guitar, and polishing up my blues harmonica and blues finger picking. Before long I had the new stack of instruments and electronics I wanted and many more musical contacts, so it was goodbye and good riddance to the day job. I started working in a combination rock'n'roll and progressive country band. I was playing a keyboard stack of a Rhodes, an Arp Omni, and Roland's 1st synthesizer - the SH-1000; as well as a 4 pedal MultiKord steel guitar. My 1st 45rpm was recorded with that band. That lasted until the leader/singer/guitarist got a high paying job on the Alaska pipeline. Then I got a job playing rhythm guitar in a band doing rock of the CSN&Y variety and folk/pop/lite jazz of Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell. The band core was 2 multi-media students from UT and I. They graduated, opened a multimedia studio and I got my 1st experience for someone else as an engineer. That ended with a large musical change in direction for me.
I got a job in one of the first 2 bands in Austin that played reggae(Lucky Roach, later to become The Lotions) and I was forever seduced by the wonder of world beat music. Reggae, rock steady, dance hall, ska, soca, salsa, son, merengue, tango, mambo, guajira, afropop, hilife, juju, S. African, W. African, bolero, charanga, tipica, reggaeton; these gigs never bore me, I love rhythmic variety - polyrhythms, the spice of life! I have also been able to play tejano in it's heyday. However, most of these have only had relatively brief periods of endearment with the USA public, so I have continued to work in a variety of musical genres. I was also a bit enamored of the jazz/funk/rock fusion and worked it as much as possible for a couple of years. I have worked in top 40(rock, country, and R&B) wedding/party bands and alternative rock bands.