GUITAR LESSONS by Roger Keith Wheeler

NEED GUITAR LESSONS?
I teach guitar at all levels and all styles.
and have wriiten my own guitar method
and scale books.
For more information go to my website
rogerkeithwheeler.com
or contact me through this website,
Thanks Roger.

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Born in Ilford, Essex, England, Roger began playing guitar at the age of eleven, teaching himself to play the songs of The Shadows, a four piece instrumental group. Hank Marvin, the lead guitar player, was the envy of all the young guitar players of the early 60's.

1960's

The first group in Roger's musical career was called the Dunesiders, comprising of Roger, Norman Jackson, Colin Gee, Anthony Stone and Tony Carr. The group hailed from Blackpool, Lancashire and the boys played songs from a plethora of popular groups in the rapidly expanding pop music scene. Since there wasn't much popular sheet music in those days, Roger relates that all the songs had to be learned by ear, listening to the records over and over again. This kind of musical training laid a secure foundation for Roger's future in the music business.

As the Dunesiders matured musically and became old enough to drive, the group changed their name to the Top Katz. Equipped with an old van, with the group name plastered all over its side, they started to play for money at pubs and nightclubs. Their biggest claim to fame was appearing as a support band on the same bill as Cream, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac and Amen Corner. This undoubtedly was the highlight of Rogers teenage years, carrying such memories as Eric Clapton spending ten minutes tuning his guitar on stage, while Ginger Baker sat drinking a bottle of Johnny Walker scotch behind his drum kit.

Roger's musical taste started to develop into rock and blues and was highly influenced by the playing of Peter Green and, of course, Eric "the God" Clapton, learning songs such as Black Magic Woman, Sunshine Of Your Love and tons more.

The Top Katz dissolved in the late 60's, having spent years learning the trade, each going their own way. Roger joined another band called The Method, continuing to play clubs up and down the north of England. On the academic side, Roger was studying for a degree in mechanical engineering.

1970's

Roger's professional music career kicked off in 1970 when Norman, his old school friend and bass player for the Top Katz, called him needing a guitar player for his band. The band was backing American singer Solomon King, who currently had a hit record with the song "She Wears My Ring". Roger joined the Kingsmen, as they were called, and almost immediately was appearing on British television on the Cliff Richard Show, with Solomon King. The Kingsmen comprised of Roger on lead guitar, Norman on bass, Ciggy Shaw (from the Rockin' Vicars, a controversial northern rock band) on drums and Roy Smith on Keyboards. The Kingsmen toured with Solomon King for almost a year and then split to become a self-contained comedy showband called "Sweet Reason". Ciggy left the band and was replaced by an ex-marine band drummer named Peter Hewitt, adding more humor and power to the group. 1972 saw Sweet Reason with their own summer spectacular show on the Channel island of Jersey, performing five nights a week at the L'Etacq hotel.

At this time Roger and Norman started to develop their songwriting talent, writing and co-writing many songs. After a showcase at the Sundown disco in London, Sweet Reason signed a management contract with Noel Gay Entertainment Agency, who were managing some big names at the time.

In 1974, Roy left the group and Sweet Reason remained a three piece band. In the quest for another keyboard player, they fell upon Reg Powell, an ex-Brit who had made it big in the States as musical director for the Osmonds and then currently the musical arranger for Lou Rawls. The band played Reg their original material and he picked up on it straight away, arranging and producing it. This led to Sweet Reason's first single record release through Decca Records on the Deram label, a double "A" side. "100,000 Dollar Twenty Carburetor Driving Machine" written by Norman and "How I Wish You Needed Me" written by Roger. The single got airplay on Radio 1, but never made the charts (darn!!). "A very close call ", Roger quotes!

Roger, Norman and Peter continued as Sweet Reason for a few more years, using the name Hattband for their new original material. A memorable note here is that Hattband learned and performed the entire "Tommy Opera" by Pete Townsend and The Who. 1978 saw the end of Sweet Reason, but Roger and Norman continued playing, this time as a duo called "Splitz". They added drummer Phil Whittaker a little later to become a power trio, playing covers from the likes of The Police, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Queen, Thin Lizzy and many more of the great rock bands.

1980's

Once again there was an alternative band name, this time "Licks", writing original music from the hand of Roger and his wife Karen. Licks signed with Chappell Music Intersong Publishing as songwriters and secured a single release in 1980 called "Ice Cream". With yet another close encounter and no fame, Roger decided to try his luck in America and landed in Boston in August 1982.

Roger and Karen continued to write music and formed a duo called "Late For Dinner", playing clubs in Seattle, Washington State, for seven years. Eventually the duo dissolved, along with their union in the early 90's and Roger found himself working clubs as a single act.

1990's

In 1994, Roger teamed up with vocalist/guitarist Kathy Childers, forming the band "Black Velvet". Kathy and Roger established the name very quickly over the first twelve months. Kathy then had the opportunity to join City Zu, a well known Northwest band, and left the duo to play the casino circuit in Nevada.

Roger however kept the name Black Velvet and looked for a new partner, enter Christy McKinnon. Christy, a talented singer, songwriter, keyboardist had been playing in another Seattle duo called "Gemini", which had recently disbanded. She also had been playing as a solo act, so it seemed a natural transition for the two to be together. In 1995, Roger and Christy started their journey as Black Velvet and for ten years have been carving their musical talent into clubs and casinos throughout the west coast of America.

2000's

2004 saw the release of their first co-written album "Recollections", an apt title for a pair of musicians who have many stories to tell. Roger is currently writing a solo guitar album, to be released in the spring of 2006.

Black Velvet, it seems, will be around for a long time and as this becomes the final stretch of their musical journey, who knows what's at the end of the road. "We look forward to it", Roger says with a smile.