Making a Scene Presents an Interview with Roy Roberts
Roy Roberts became hooked on music while growing up in a small town in Tennessee, listening to blues and R&B on radio stations WLAC out of Nashville. Jimmy Reed’s “Baby What You Want Me to Do” was the clincher and at the age of 14, Roy worked on a nearby farm to earn the money for his first guitar, a mail order Sears Silvertone.
When he turned 18, he moved to Greensboro, North Carolina to live with an uncle. There he had another inspiration to become a professional musician, when he and a carload of friends happened upon a nightclub where Jerry Butler was performing and making quite an impression on the ladies. Roy sharpened his skills while playing in makeshift bands until he landed a job with local hero Guitar Kimbers’ Untouchables. Before long, Roy was backing up major artists who came through town. One of those artists, Solomon Burke, took young Roy under his wing after letting him sit in as a bass player during a local gig. He was soon handling the guitar chores behind the future soul legend on tour. Roberts subsequently picked up touring gigs with such luminaries as Eddie Floyd, “Little” Stevie Wonder, Dee Clark, and Otis Redding, while fronting his own band, The Roy Roberts Experience, on the regional club scene and Southeastern beach town circuit.
Roy began to cut records in the mid-sixties, staying mostly behind the scenes as a session man. The tragic death of Otis Redding inspired him to step up to the microphone with a song dedicated to the late crooner. The record was released on Nina Simone’s NinaAndy label and backed by an ace studio band. Roy followed this successful effort with a string of 45’s that carried him well into the seventies. During the disco years, Roy turned his talents to country music, touring with the great O.B. McClinton and releasing a number of country records. After a brief hiatus from the music scene, Roy built a recording studio in Virginia in 1989, where he produced records by regional gospel artists and cut a gospel record of his own.
One day in the early nineties, he heard a young Robert Cray singing the blues on the radio. “That cat’s got my style,” he declared, and got the blues fever once again. Besides recording his own material on Rock House, Roberts has produced albums for the label by Priscilla Price, Lou Pride, Chick Willis, Skeeter Brandon, Floyd Miles, Eddie Floyd, and many more. Roy continues to record and produce records for his label, and tours the U.S. and Europe regularly. After receiving numerous awards, Roy has earned his place among the finest artists playing blues today.