I am sad to announce that Roger Clark, BRC Hall of Fame 2016 inductee has passed away. Roger died of a heart attack Thursday at home, at the age of 67. Below is the obituary from Elkins Funeral Home in Florence, AL. Roger was very honored about the induction into our HOF and we are so glad we had a chance to meet and to get to know him.
BRC Bio on Roger: http://www.birminghamrecord.com/brc/hall_of_fame/roger-clark/
When Roger Clark was 14 years old, he got his first paid drumming gig at a night club on Main Street in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was so young, that when the band went on break, he had to hide behind the bar, because he was underage.
His dynamic style of playing drums had musicians all over town coming in to hear “the kid.” One of those musicians was renowned songwriter/musician, Ken Bell. It didn’t take Ken long to hire Roger away into his own band. At age 16, Roger was playing at the biggest club in Chattanooga. His association with Ken Bell also led to trips to Memphis, Tennessee where he got his first taste of session work. And he loved it.
In 1969, with nothing more than a dream and what he could pack into his car, Roger headed out to the west coast. He had friends living in San Francisco that assured him, he could find lots of work there. He didn’t.
Roger will be the first to tell you, he starved for six months. Then finally, he landed a gig at a club in Walnut Creek near San Francisco called The Hook and Ladder. He wanted to work, and boy was he! Six hours a night, six nights a week for a grand total of…$48 a week.
Scanning a newspaper one day, he saw an audition call for a band he had never heard of. But the salary and the thought of going on tour got his attention. So Roger went to the audition, jammed with the band for an hour and when it was over, he was the new drummer for…The Steve Miller Band. Over night he went from making $48 a week to $500 a day when the band was idle and $1500 a day when they had a show. He loves to tell the story of getting his first paycheck from Steve Miller, taking it to the bank and asking for it all in one dollar bills. He took it all outside and tossed it in the air!
Roger toured with Steve Miller all over Europe. They played in Scandinavia, Germany, Sweden and England. He found himself at The Paladium, playing a command performance for The Queen of England. A far cry from a club on Main Street in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Roger then moved to Los Angles and played on at least 25 cuts for Steve Miller at Capital Recording Studio.
It was around that time that he became acquainted with and eventually joined a band called The HooDoo Rhythm Devils. To this day, Roger says the HooDoos was the best band he’s ever been a part of, hands down! They toured with Journey, The Tower of Power and The Pointer Sisters.
His old buddy from Chattanooga, Ken Bell had migrated to Muscle Shoals, Alabama and called Roger one day, asking if he might be interested in becoming a session drummer for Rick Hall at FAME.
Roger went to FAME, auditioned and found a new home. He notched so many gold records during that time, he lost count. Including Mac Davis, Bobbie Gentry, Rufus Thomas, Billy Ocean, Bill Haley and The Comets, Clarence Carter, Paul Anka, Tom Jones, T.G. Shepperd, The Osmonds and Marie Osmond.
In the 70s, there were nine very active studios in the Muscle Shoals area and Roger ended up working for all of them.
He cut the first chart topping country record to come out of Muscle Shoals on Narvel Felts at Music Mill. The song was “Reconsider Me.”
He cut a gold record on the group HOT at Wishbone, Angel In Your Arms and earned writer’s credits on a cut on their album, called “Guilty.”
Also while at Wishbone, Roger and Clayton Ivey were invited to Motown in Detroit to play on several sessions. They were the first white musicians to infiltrate the soulful black music studio. Of the over 30 gold and platinum recordings that Roger has played on, The Temptations “Firefly” has a prominent position on the wall above the desk in his office.
During a session at Wishbone with Hank Williams, Jr., they were working on a song called “Family Tradition.” The tune had an almost gospel feel to it. Roger suggested to Jimmy Bowen, the producer, that they take the song “stone cold country.” Roger and the other session players sang the background vocals, making it the only recording on which he played drums and sang. Roger also cut four albums with Hank, Jr. at Music Mill Recording Studio in Muscle Shoals, including All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight. Hank and Roger forged a friendship and he ended up going on the road with Hank for two tours. He played The Grand Ole Opry with Hank…setting the conservative Opry crowd on it’s ear with, at the time, Rockin’ Country.
Nashville heavy weight producer Jimmy Bowen was so impressed with Roger’s creative lead in the studio, that he started bringing him to Nashville for sessions. During that period, just about every song that came out on Electra-Asylum had Roger Clark on drums. Conway Twitty, Barbara Mandrell, Amy Grant, Mel Tillis and Nancy Sinatra, and that’s just the tip of the Music City iceberg.
Roger has played twice on the Tonight Show With Johnny Carson, backing Tom Jones and Jim Stafford.
A fourteen year old kid with big dreams in Chattanooga, Tennessee didn’t do to bad for himself.
Sunday, June 3, 2018
Alabama Music Hall of Fame
617 U.S. 72 West
Tuscumbia, Alabama 35674