Roger Hill passed away this week at the age of 66. A major part of Brumbeat history passed with him.
A history rich in the stories of Brummie guitarists, Roger had played with many significant bands during his lifetime and NEVER STOPPED playing the guitar. Not for him the "I've had enough of this game". He was still playing at 65 and playing well, if anything, he had improved in certain areas but I guess that is what comes with maturity, no matter what your age is.
The Brumbeats, The Uglys, Exception, Mongrel, Fairport Convention, Chris Barber Jazz Band and lately The Old Horns were some of the bands that had featured Roger's talents. He could be found doing gigs with his own band at gigs like the Actress and Bishop on occasional Sundays in the City centre, always drawing an appreciative crowd.
Roger had always been one of those guitarists who had a leaning to jazz, right from the very beginning. If you wanted to know a chord, he was the guy and it came as no surprise to see him move so easily and willingly from the pop music field to jazz where he spent many years playing with Chris Barber and the great Otilie Paterson.
He got back to where he started his Rythmn and Blues days though and formed The Roger Hill Band playing occasional gigs in Birmingham. Throughout all of his career there has always been one thing certain about Roger. He was just the nicest and most unassuming of guys.I saw Roger last play at The Roadhouse. His show was just great and featured all the R&B and Blues standards that had been the bread and butter for groups during the Beat Group era, laced with older memories of the instrumental classic "3.30 Blues" which sounded as authentic as when he first learned it. The highlight on that particular night for me was his interpretation of the Ray Charles classic, 'Evening" where he excelled himself. As an old friend and fellow guitarist I found myself smiling, and at one point laughing out loud, so thrilled was I at some of his playing.
He could really lay it on when he was 'up'.
I'm sure that he's 'up' right now. God Bless Rog.....