From a young age, Roger was an avid chess player who also enjoyed reading books. However, a love of music led him to follow his dreams of becoming the best jazz saxophone player in the world, which took him to Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, however, he discovered that many other musicians had the same idea. Despite being a great saxophonist, Roger filled in the gaps between saxophone jobs by playing the piano. Soon, he also began using the piano to write and arrange music. While Los Angeles had many saxophone players, there were few who could also play the piano, arrange, write, and compose music. His specialty became writing for horn sections.
From 1951 to 1953, Roger served in the United States Army. In 1951, he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Music from Central State University and he was an instructor at the Fairfield High School in Alabama in 1953. Roger married Betty Mosley, who was also a professional pianist, singer, songwriter, dancer, and model. His only child was born, a daughter named Woni. Roger and Betty became the quintessential "Golden Couple" both were playing piano in the Los Angeles music scene. At home, they wrote songs together but because they both played piano, their performance paths rarely crossed.
Betty received an award for volunteerism from the First Lady. She always joked that she only volunteered at Head Start Pre-School because she was an overprotective mother. During the '70s and '80s, Roger was an instructor at Grant's Music Center in Los Angeles. Since 1983, he has been on the board of directors for the Friends of Watts Towers Art Center, also in Los Angeles. Roger was a Member of the American Society of Composers. He was the recipient of The American composer, arranger. Grantee National Endowment for Arts, 1976. Roger served on the Board of directors at the Musicians Credit Union #47, Los Angeles, since1984, Musicians Union #47, 1970; Despite Los Angeles being his base, music has also allowed Roger and Betty to travel the world.
Roger toured Asia and Betty performed extensively in South America, The Caribbean Islands and Africa, taking their young daughter with them. In addition to his work as a composer, Roger has also worked in all sorts of dance productions. Most notably, he has worked with Chester A. Whitmore, a well-known tap dancer, artistic director, and choreographer.
Roger also had literary friends such as Nolan Davis, author of Six Black Horses and Ray Bradbury, who wrote the back flap for Nolan's book. Roger, Nolan, and Ray attended Mensa meetings together. Roger has been mentioned in many books and publications such as Take Me To A Circus Tent: The Jefferson Airplane Flight Manual by Craig Fenton and Screen World 1993: Comprehensive Pictorial and Statistical Record of the 1992 Movie Season by John Willis.
Roger has taught many well-known singers how to perform which included stage presence, vocal coaching, and how to present themselves. He has worked with many actresses and was the music director for Zola Taylor's Platters. Roger loved experimenting with electronic instruments, throbbing electric basses, Mini Moogs, and Wah Wah pedals. Roger created some of the sexiest heart-stopping grooves on the planet. "Blaxploitation soundtracks" An example of this music can be found on Tongue, a rare album. While his true love was Jazz, his friendship with Papa John Creach allowed him to collaborate with psychedelic rock bands. Roger worked with Grace Slick and on Flight Log with Jefferson Airplane's Cosby and Stills. Roger has also composed classical music with one of his mentors and best friends, Lyn Murray. A fellow screenwriter and composer, the two of them worked together on Bob Hope-America is 200 Years Old...And There's Still Hope!
While I was researching Roger's music collaborations, I noticed that most of the players on any given recording were also very close friends such as Tollie Moore, Rufus Anderson Jr, Curtis Kirk, Bobby Haynes, Stan Levine, Billy Brooks, Niva Ruschell, Caprice Clarke, Curtis Peagler, Miles Grayson Virgil Rodgers, Frank Foster, Thurman Green, Bill Rene, Clint Stacy (Ink Spotts), Spanky Wilson, Zola Taylor (Platters) Billy Mitchell, Johnny Otis, Shuggie Otis, Lermon Horton, Al Gray, Phil Wright(a Fellow Piano Player and Composer). Some of Roger's other notable recordings and productions were Lo Milos, Azitis, Mary Love, Don Sugarcane Harris, Mel Bryant, Wynton Kelly, Lee Morgan, Tramaine Hawkins, Larry Ball, Vera Hamilton, Free Form Experience, Pee Wee Crayton, Marchand Melcher, Roy Porter, James "Popeye" Maupin, Gary Bell, Curtis Fuller, Billy Higgins, Louie Spears, Maurice Spears, Horace Tapscott, Slim Jim Green, Oscar Mclollie, Clora Bryant, H. B. Barnum, Fred Merrill, Marion(Music Copyist) John Outterbridge (Artist), Kurt Baker (Director), and many more. Roger has been mentioned in many books and newspaper articles such as There and Back by Roy Porter, Take me to the Circus Tent: The Jefferson Airplane Flight Manual, Ray Charles: Man and Music-Updated Commemorative Edition, Frank Foster Papers-Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University, The LA Times and more!
Alongside Roger's immense love for music is also a love for his community, particularly through volunteering. A terrific friend, he often visited and cared for aging musicians. Children also adored Roger for his patience and his funny personality, he was always available for a trip to the museum, beach, zoo, park, or fireworks show. Well known for his Midwestern values, his honesty in business, his outgoing personality, and his good humor, Roger was always a perfect gentleman.
Roger Hamilton Spotts' work and the achievements of his parents are being displayed at the Amistad Research Center in New Orleans. A memorial bench was placed across from The Greek Theater. The plaque reads "Roger Hamilton Spotts Brilliant Musician Great Father Caring Friend Rest Knowing that your warmth made your only child and her friends laugh and smile on those Endless Summer Days"