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Wally Roker - Sad News RIP

Wally Roker - Sad News RIP cover

 

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Sad to hear that Wally Roker has passed away. West Coast producer, label owner and one time member of The Heartbeats. He was a powerhouse for more than 3 decades and a real nice guy to meet and always ready to talk about the music he loved...... But Wally started life on the east coast and was instrumental in the formation of Scepter /Wand records where he worked tirelessly to get new releases onto DJ play lists. In 1965 he then went onto St Lawrence records in Chicago as a promo man. Thanks to Steve  Guanori for some of the back ground, which he gained when he interviewed him for his fantastic book about Scepter/Wand.

The Heartbeats

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Brought up on the mean street of Queens, N.Y. Wally started his musical career with The Heartbeats, along with James 'Shep' Sheppard, the group had a fair amount of local success around the city, but eventually broke up in 1958. Shep went on to form the highly successful Shep & The Limelights, whilst Wally entered the commercial side of the business. But he never lost his ear for that sweet group sound and went on to produce many, like Love, Four Monitors, Whispers and The Determinations to name a few. Whilst in Chicago his skills were much in demand and he work with many of the key artists of the day amongst them, Tyrone Davis, Irma Thomas, Mamie P. Galore and Chuck Bernard.

In the 1970' s upon arriving in Los Angeles, He developed his Roker record label and production company, as well as working with the Canyon label. Not long after he help form the Doo Wop Hal Of Fame, which he was still involved in until recently. Wally became good friends with many of Latino fans of the 'Lowrider' sound in East L.A. and could be regularly found at swap meets promoting and talking about the music he loved.

 

This is a personal favourite of mine and is a perfect example of Wally's group sound, below is both sides of the 45 by Love which came out on RRG and Law-Ton, 'That's the way' / 'The only way'

 

 




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Nice write up Dave.

Just to add a bit….he'd worked at Bobby Robinson's Fire / Fury set up in Harlem until 1960, when Scepter employed him.

He left Scepter when Pete Garrison was hired, worked at St. Lawrence, and then in 1966 for the Leaner's at One-Der-Ful, promoting Alvin Cash etc. His name must appear on at least a thousand records and his tireless promotional work was legendary in the industry. 

He was one of the most under-rated people in our music.

Edited by Steve G

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Two interesting pieces, another unsung hero, i remember the "Love" 45 being plentifull when i was at Tod towers great two sides.

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After moving to LA, Wally & his mates (Dee Erwin, etc.) also worked with the likes of Ray Charles.

One of the lovely records he had a hand in was Alex Brown's Tangerine outing "I'm In Love" .........

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COKge0zoKSU

 

Wally (along with Monk Higgins) cut the original (ABC) version of Tyrone Davis's "Can I Change My Mind" at Ray Charles Tangerine Studios in LA. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjB16WhyPPc

Edited by Roburt

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Super geezer, I met him at Jerry Williams' place, his name is all over the place. He worked with Irma Thomas, Don Gardner on Tru Glo Town and Rudy Love's 'Suffering Wrath' worked a lot with Monk Higgins in L A probably Chicago too.

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Never had the pleasure of meeting Wally but 

Have total respect for his hard work he put in

thanks for the music Wally see, you on the other side x

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A dear friend who joined us at Soultripusa in LA 2004. He was the distributor of Soul Clock for fans of the Whispers and Fuller Brothers.  

RIP Wally

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