ROC LARUE: BIOGRAPHY
Born: Roger Adrian LaRue
Date: May 20, 1939
Where: Fall River, Massachusetts
Roger began his career in Fall River, Massachusetts, while attending BMC Durfee
High School in the mid 50's. He appeared 3 nights a week on radio station WALE,
while also appearing 6 nights a week on WNET-TV in RI. "It was hectic, going to
school and all, but I loved it," said Roger.
He got is first break when he won a local talent show in Fall River at the Empire
Theater, headlined by Eddie Zack (RHOF inductee) and the Dude Ranchers. This
led Roger to appear on the Eddie Zack Hayloft Jamboree TV show in Providence, RI. and
appearance with Eddie at Jack Witzies Sports Arena, Lake Compounce in Bristol,
CT., Lincoln Park Ball Park in North Dartmouth and Rocky Point, just to name a few.
He caught the "rockabilly" bug after seeing the movie "Rock Around the Clock" with
Bill Haley and His Comets. He later became influenced, as did many others by the King
himself, Elvis Presley.
His energetic style of singing country music caught the attention of a popular Fall
River musician and performer, Johnny Cardell and the Pals. Needing a new singer and
guitarist, Johnny recruited Roger into the group, and in 1956 head to the Catskills. His
wild, energetic, shaking style of singing drew the crowds to the famous Catskill
Mountain Resorts where he performed. SRO was the norm every night. They headed to
Buffalo, Schnectedy, Albany, Rochester, basically called the Upstate New York Circuit.
They headed into Canada filling rooms from Montreal to Toronto.
While in Troy, NY, they caught the attention of personal of personal manager Don Davis of the
Associated Booking Corporation in New York City. Don brought the 3 Pals to New
York City and became Roger's personal manager. He was signed by RAMA Records, a
subsidiary of Roulette Records changing his name to Roc LaRue. His first release of
"Baby Take Me Back" hit the regional charts in New York, Providence, Rochester,
Schenectedy, Buffalo, Albany, Toronto, Montreal, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and
as far as Savannah, GA. This led him to promotional tours appearing with Carl
Perkins (Blue Suede Shoes), Eddie Cochran (Summertime Blues), to name a few. He
followed with several more releases, "Teenage Blues", :I Don't Care if the Sun Don't
Shine" (Holland Records), "I'm Not Ashamed" and "If I Were in Your Shoes."
"To clear up a so-called mystery." said Roc recently, "Collectors over the years thought that I
had recorded 'Rockabilly Yodeler', and that I was also Johnny Cardell. That is not true.
Johnny Cardell was the leader of the original 3 Pals and he made that recording on RANA,
backed with 'Deceived' at the same time that I made my cuts. There is also a "J.
LaRue" at the top of my recording sheet schedule from the 1957 RAMA session. I believe that
was a mistake made by the technician. I don't think he knew who was Johnny and who was Roc.
While in New York, his main club appearance, or "home base" as he called it, was the
Wagon Wheel Lounge on W. 45th Street. His close friend, Joey Dee of "Peppermint
Twist" fame also managed by Don Davis, played a few doors down from him at a club
called "The Peppermint Lounge." Roc's show appearances in the New York area included
Palisades Park, Far Rockaway, Coney Island Ballroom and others.
Roger's rockabilly sounds rocked W. 45th street from 1956 to 1959 and attracted SRO
crowds every night. "To this day", says Roger, "I can't believe the people that came to
see us - Sunny Gale, Marty Robbins, Webb Pierce, Martha Raye, Jimmy Bowen,
Marvin Rainwater, Lenny Montana (The Godfather movies) and many others. What great
memories ... what a great time to be a teenager ... the Golden Age of Rock 'n' Roll ...",
he recently commented to Bob Timmers, curator of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
"Remember, I was just 18 when all this took place. It was amazing and overwhelming."
In the early '60s music was changing rapidly, The rockabilly sounds were being
replaced with the sounds of Dion, Bobby Rydell, Paul Anka and similar type teen idols. The only
rockabilly left standing was the King himself, Elvis Presley. For whatever reason,
and to this day, I will never understand how my career in New York ended so abruptly.
We had the Sullivan show lined up, Martha Raye has me schedule to appear on her
Tv special, Dick Clark appearance were scheduled and a west coast tour was scheduled
along with a screen test with Universal International Studio in Hollywood. But for some
reason none of it took place. "And like I said - to this day I don't know what happened,
nor did anyone tell me the why's or what-fors. Oh well - that's showbiz."
Discouraged and disappointed, Roger returned to New England and eventually he
enlisted into the United States Army in late 1961. But even in the Army he couldn't get
away from playing and performing. He was spotted on night at an enlisted men's club
doing his thing with a couple of other G.I.'s and he eventually wound up on the U.S.
Army's "Rolling Along" show. He toured all the Army bases on the east coast. He
eventually went to Germany - and yes - began playing there also - entertaining the
troops at EM, NCO and Officer clubs as well as being invited to perform at local
German clubs throughout Northern and Central Germany.
When he returned to the states in 1964, he returned to his first love, "country music." He
played throughout New England, doing shows from Maine to New London, with
Elton Britt (RHOF), Johnny Dollar (RHOF), George Morgan and Lee Moore of the famed
WWVA radio broadcasts. He made a few more recordings which got some regional
attention, but that was it. He eventually hung up his guitar in 1968.
His early recordings have become collectors items in the Rockabilly world. In the '80s as
one collector described to Roger, "a fanatical Roc LaRue following" evolved in
Montreal, Canada, Hamburg, Germany, The Netherlands and England as well as here in
the states. Collectors to this day are still collecting his early 1957 recordings.
While his recordings never went to the national level, The Rockabilly Hall of Fame has
recognized him, along with many others, for his contribution to the early sounds of
rockabilly that eventually evolved into the phenomenon of Rock and Roll.
"I just cannot believe that this happened,"said Roger in his conversation with the
Hall of Fame curator, Bob Timmers. "I feel so honored and exhilarated. I feel 18 again
and it makes me want to strap my guitar on and start rockin' again. The RHOF will be
officially presenting the Induction Certificate to him personally as Roger and his wife
make the trip to Burns, Tennessee later this year.
It has been suggested to Roger to release a compilation of his early recordings on CD and make
it available. "I am missing just one, 'Teenage Blues'", says Roger. "I hope it shows up again ...
somewhere. Without that song I don't think I would want to produce the CD - it just
wouldn't be complete. However, if I do go back into the studio, I would want my
two sons Roger (drums) and Chris (piano/keyboard) to back me up as well as my daughter-in-law
Christie to do back up vocal. That would be great having my family on CD with me."
LEFT: Roger with George Morgan (Candy Kisses) 1970.
RIGHT: Roger with Elton Britt doing a show in Connecticut.
Baby Take Me Back/Teenage Blues, RAMA Records, 1957
Baby Take Me Back/I'm Not Ashamed, RAMA Records, 1957
(Roger's Note: "I don't know why they did this, but both 45's were released.
I am still trying to find Teenage Blues").
I Don't Care If the Sun Don't Shine/If I Were In Your Shoes, HOLLAND Records, 1958
Hello Mister, Just A Dream, Little Boy Sad, Cute Little Yodeler, I've Heard About Guys Like You Before -
CONTRAST/WYNCOTE Records, 1967
Don't Turn Around - SUBTOWN Records, 1970
Roger (Roc) LaRue can be reached at