Highlights of Howard Roberts Life and Career
- Howard Roberts was born October 2, 1929 in Phoenix, Arizona. By his teens he was playing semi-professionally, and it wasn't long before he had hit the big time as a studio musician in Los Angeles, California. After a distinguished career that has hundreds of impressive credits, Roberts settled in Edmonds, Washington, where he died June 29, 1992 at the age of 62.
- A father of five children, 1 girl and 4 boys. Most of the children are pursuing some kind of musical career.
- He was a guitarist, primarily a jazz player, but capable of anything in the studio. He was also a teacher, author, columnist, educational administrator, and instrument designer.
- Howard Roberts had the distinguished position of being "first call" on the Los Angeles studio circuit. "First Call" meant that he was the first guitar player called when a guitar player was needed. It was largely due to this status and his great work ethic that led to Robert's hundreds of credits on television and movie theme songs and scores.
- Shared the "top studio guitarist" with the likes of Tommy Tedesco and Glen Campbell.
- An author or many excellent guitar method books. One of the most popular, which is directed at beginning guitarists, is the Chroma system featured on this web site. The Chroma system is a revolutionary learning system for the guitar, utilizing color-coded lables as a learning aid. The student learns quickly, easily, playing real guitar music, and melodies from the first day.
To put it in the words of a colleague and peer, Tom Wheeler, Editor of
Guitar Player Magazine.
"Howard Roberts has been called one of the leading guitarists in jazz,
but while the description is indisputably true, it restricts his
accomplishments in two ways: He's more than a guitarist, and his music
extends beyond jazz. One of Hollywood's leading session musicians, Howard
played on thousands of pop and rock records by the likes of Frank Sinatra,
Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, and many more, as well as literally thousands of
motion picture and TV sound-tracks. He also recorded nearly two dozen
acclaimed LPs as a feature artist in his own right.
After delivering a series of provocative and well-attended seminars, he went
on to author several method books, establish Playback Publications,
design elegant arch-top guitars for Gibson, write the popular
Jazz Improvisation column each month in Guitar Player magazine,
and co-found the internationally renowned
Guitar Institute of Technology (now Musician's Institute).
Howard's innovative Chroma system is the culmination of his remarkably broad
experiences as a guitarist, teacher, author, columnist, educational
administrator, and instrument designer."
Editor, Guitar Player magazine
You probably grew up hearing the work of Howard Roberts and just didn't know.
At the height of his career, Howard was the premier guitar player on
the L.A. studio music scene, playing on thousands of recordings,
motion picutre and TV sound tracks. Very few can match the volume of
recognizable tunes peformed by Howard Roberts. From the spooky guitar theme of
the Television Hit "The Twilight Zone," to the 60s pop sound on the Television
Show "I Dream of Jeanie," Howard Roberts nearly played them all.
Here are a few of the legacies Roberts left for us to enjoy.
- He was known as the fifth Monkee. Howard Roberts played on
nearly every album and every tune for the 1960s sensations The Monkees.
- Ernie Flat and Earl Scruggs were a dueling banjo/guitar duo of bluegrass
fame. They were hired to perform the theme song for the 1960s show
"The Beverly Hillbillies." Ernie Flat was an excellent banjo player, but he
couldn't read music. So Howard Roberts played the intro piece for him by
tuning the banjo like a guitar and picking it out!
- Many of us as kids loved the guitar in the Munsters theme song.
Yep, Howard played it.
Here is a list of some of many people with who Howard Roberts played.
- Elvis Presley
- Frank Sinatra
- Ray Charles
- Sammy Davis Jr.