Rodger Waite's Bio

~ by Rodger Waite


Detroit ~

Bruce L. on piano, Ron K. on clarinet, me on sax, and Craig F. on drums – we were all in 6th grade.  Bruce was talented and when he played the piano, it rocked, literally.  He beat the crap out of it and was stomping on the pedal, and we horn players responded in kind.  I am not sure if we were rockin’ or swingin’ at that point, but either way it was cool.  I remember playing “Washington Square” and some boogies.  My parents thought we were great!  Bruce L. was a great friend and a super talent.  He owned his own very successful radio station at one point and died from alcoholism.  I went to the funeral.  More about that later.

Craig’s first rehearsal set was cardboard boxes and pots and pans.  He was a good sport because he had a real set at home.  That’s why he was in the band – he had a set of drums!

His brother played in “The Montereys” and they were popular, playing almost every week.  They had Beatle wigs they would wear for a “show” set, and were very confident that they knew what people wanted to hear.  Craig’s brother played keys, a Cordovox ( glorified accordion, but easily transported) through a Leslie tone cabinet.  To my young ears, it sounded like a Hammond.

There were mountains of 45s in the basement at Craig’s house.  His dad had played with Gene Krupa, and he was managing the Montereys.  All the cool soul records were there.  The Montereys had a great sax guy who could play Jr. Walker note for note.  I never knew what was going on, but I was a tenor sax player and tried to figure it out as I went along.  Nobody, even my school music teachers and private lesson teachers at the music stores, taught me any theory.  I was looking for understanding and struggling.

All I could do was try to play what I heard, and without any theory to help me, it was tough.  I had played Classical music on the piano, but it was all rote.  I was starting to discover that life, and music, could be an adventure, something one could discover and explore.

I never thought about singing, although I did it.  In Detroit, we sort of took turns.  We were kids, and no one knew anything about it, so we always just did it without thinking.  Somehow, when we played for people, they responded.  Now I think it was the soul aspect of what we did.  Our favorite bands had soul, and every song we loved had soul.  This was something I still hold onto now.  I’m not sure what it was, but it meant something, and still does.  If you do it with soul – it’s done.

My family moved from Detroit when I was in the 10th grade to a place called Barboursville, W. V.  It was a challenge for me to adapt to the culture shock.  I will have to explain this later, but it was extreme!  Music helped me to survive.

To Be Continued….

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