If you have some personal stories or anecdotes about Howard Roberts send them to me and I will place them here.
In general it's about the feelings that HR and Wes felt about making pop/"commercial" records! The first is based on a story that Howard shared with me. He told me about going to see Wes play at a jazz club in LA, and while on one of the breaks HR and Wes had a smoke/drink. Wes told Howard that he LOVED his playing, and because of some of HR's "commercial" records, he felt it was OK to do the same! Wes stated he liked most of his Riverside recordings, but was traveling a lot and wanted to make better money for his family. HR told me, Wes also stated, he felt he could not really do much studio work, because he could not really read music. HR said he understood, and stated both of their pop records got their names out to the general public in a large way and both of them getting fan mail and had young kids (rock guitar players) interested in jazz and learning more about music in general!
Howard told me stories about Jack Marshall, what a nice guy he was and what a musical talent he was too (the producer of some of those LPs). HR felt he REALLY played about 10 % jazz on those records! But maybe getting people interested in learning/liking guitar music was the start of idea of doing the teaching thing for Howard!
The second story is about HR at the summer NAMM music show in Chicago, late 70's . Was at the trade show as a salesman for Rothchild Musical Instruments, had already known HR for years having booked him two times at OSU in Columbus, Ohio! And then when working/learning about the record business in LA ! Anyway went to the trade show, got tickets for some of my friends, so we could see each other. I had talked to Howard already, so we could meet up. Don't know the details but Howard and Gibson Guitars were not getting along! My guess is money! But Howard showed up at the Ibanez booth, and started playing and within minutes George Benson showed up! They started playing together, HR was just playing rhythm for George . . . but then George said "Take it" Howard was HOT. Benson's jaw hit the floor and after a while stopped playing and was just watching HR. People were shocked . . . HR just playing SO GREAT! It was magic! My dear friend, Mike McGannon was there! So he can tell you the story too! I had met George before, even played with him at a music store in Detroit. He also talked about HR and Wes kicking the door open wide for a GUITARIST to making BIG MONEY! LOL!
Also, hello to John Paul Hoppe...He had the best guitar shop on the planet!
In the 1960s I work at an electronics place in N. W. Washington, D.C. Our department sold home audio components, and among many artists, we used Howard's "Color Him Funky" as one of our favorite demonstration albums. When Howard came to town, he was playing in a little jazz club, and through some contacts I found out where he was staying. I wanted to invite him to drop in our store so we could meet him.
I called his hotel and asked the desk clerk if I could speak with him. He said he was probably still asleep, but he was scheduled for a wake-up call and my phone call would serve the purpose. When Howard answered the phone I could tell that I woke him. I told him who I was and where I worked and that we used his "Funky" album for demos. I don't remember too much of the conversation, but Howard was very cordial and said "Groovy" when I mentioned playing his album for demos.
Howard said he had some radio things to do, and if he had time he would come in the next day. He never showed. I even forfeited my half day off and stayed in case he did. I was a bit disappointed, but I did go see him at the club and he was awesome. Something I wouldn't have missed.