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.
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'