Monday, January 5, 2015

The Guitar Artistry of Billy Rogers

Listening to the clip "Billy's Bop" above, Billy Rogers (1950 - 1987) will blow you away immediately. I had never heard of him until I came across his name in Maurice's Summerfield "Jazz Guitar" book. But it would still take many years to actually hear a clip of him on Youtube. The clip is from a CD produced by Dave Stryker and is called: "The Guitar Artistry" of Billy Rogers.

Billy picked up the guitar at 12 and started studying jazz after hearing Kenny Burrell, George Benson and Grant Green when he was 16. He shut himself up in his room and practised 8 hours a day. At 17 he began playing the Chicago area and in the Midwest and gained a lot of experience in organ trios. Later he played with Jack McDuff and did a long stint with George Shearing in 1975.

As a member of the highly successful Crusaders, he toured extensively for a year and a half but he was not that happy with the way he was supposed to play in the band. He left and started gigging in the LA area again. In 1984 he moved to San Fransisco. His heroine problems and his troubled soul kept his career from really taking off though. But his playing was top notch and he became some kind of underground guitar legend. Listen:

In 1987, he was found dead from a drug overdose in his appartment. Another jazz career cut tragically short.

Dave Stryker, a friend of Billy, discovered many tapes in Billy's basement and added and synced backings to a number of blistering solos a few years later, thus compiling the CD that Billy never made. The CD features really incredible playing.

You can listen to a complete playlist of Dave Stryker's Compilation CD  below and if you want to buy it, click here.

the guitar artistry of billy rogers from Billy on Myspace.


  1. chops to spare ... another unheard of great player ...

    if i may digress, i don't mean to be political but as an american citizen it disgusts me the way the arts are treated in the USA, especially the only contribution to music the US has ever made Jazz/blues

    Blues seems to be doing ok ... but jazz

    there was a reason so many great american jazz artist moved to Europe ...

  2. I was lucky enough to have met Billy around 1975 when he came to Texarkana with George Shearing's group. My family hosted a part for George Shearing after their gig and I took Billy to our home for the party. He spent about four hours in my music room with me playing my Gibson Byrdland! He showed me many things on guitar, some I remember and others I don't. I kept up with his career as best I could and remember him joining the Crusaders. Thanks to the great Dave Striker for giving the American public a chance to hear this guy's playing! Billy knew Benson pretty well and sold Benson a L-5 of his. He used a ES-175 for the road gig with Shearing. I was sad to hear of his death in 1987, I hoped he would clean up and have a great career. It's another sad story of someone who really had the talent not breaking through because of some personal problems!