Roy Gaines was born on 1934 in Waskom, Texas and brought up in Houston. There was music in the family, as his older brother Grady played sax as a session musician for Don Robey‘s Peacock Records, and later joined Little Richard‘s band The Upsetters. Roy started out playing piano, but switched to guitar because he was a big fan of local man T-Bone Walker and his phrasing has never strayed too far from his hero’s groundbreaking single-string style. After a very long spell as a session musician, Roy stirred into action in the 80s, acting in the film ‘The Color Purple’, and his solo ‘Gainlining’ album sold well, but it was a decade later that he picked up a whole new career as a frontman with a long string of albums.
In the early 50s, Roy relocated to Los Angeles, where he joined Roy Milton‘s Solid Senders, a busy touring band that played Jump-Blues around the West-coast dancehalls. He also picked up studio work backing artists of the calibre of Big Mama Thornton and Junior Parker, and played with his old friend T-Bone.
Roy shows his style on ‘Too Many Miles Between Us’;
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In 1966, Roy became a long standing member of Ray Charles‘ backing band, and also toured with several Soul and Motown acts, who liked his ability to add a tasteful guitar lick to just about any song, so Roy spent many years on the road and in the studio as a sideman. In 1982, Roy struck out on his own, recording his ‘Gainelining’ album for the Red Lightnin’ label.[stextbox id=”custom” caption=” Discography” float=”true” align=”left” width=”300″]Made with a full orchestra, which included Joe Sample on piano, Roy’s sophisticated vocal delivery and tasteful guitar work would not be out of place at a black-tie evening.
[/stextbox] Fourteen years later, in 1996, his very-belated ‘follow-up’ began a long association with the Black Gold label. ‘Lucille Work for Me’ seems to throw down a challenge to BB King for ownership of a big Gibson semi-acoustic guitar, and Roy also showed his vocal abilities as he put down some smouldering, soulful tracks. Another ten albums have been released since then, the latest being the live ‘War is Over’ recorded in Paris and Los Angeles. There are still distinct traces of T-Bone in Roy’s playing as he leads his band around the club and festival circuit.