I first heard Elvis Presley on my sister’s record player in 1954. She and a few of her friends were at our dining
room table jumping and screaming at the top of their lungs, my mother came out of the kitchen looking like she
was going to cry. I really thought it was the end, but it was the beginning. Memphis changed that very day, in the
weeks that followed were really cool. The next year everybody knew him.The 50s were a very exciting time to be
alive, but the 60s were even more so.I fell in love with stock car racing in 1960, for a few years that's all I wanted to
do. I heard The Beatles on radio fall of 1963, they were different but I didn't think much of it. In the next few weeks
that would all change.
My sister got me the ‘Meet The Beatles’ album a few days after it came out, January 1964. Times were changing.
She also got me ‘Introducing-The Beatles’ a few weeks later.I got my first set of drums for Christmas 1964, they
were Kent’s..it had a kick, snare and one small cymbal ( I wanted a gocart ). Took um to my bedroom, I had a small
record player that only played 45’s. The record that was on it was the one I learned to play drums on, It was ‘Last
Kiss’ by Wayne Cochran. I played it over and over for a few days, I really felt I was a drummer after that. We
started a band with neighborhood friends before the winter was over. Looking back now I think there was a band
on every street, we were having a ball.
The Arcels – 1965- 66
Before the summer was out 1965 I got a set of Apollo drums up on Beale Street, metal flake blue-w-kick, snare,
ride tom, floor tom, high hat, ride cymbal and crash. Played my first paying job at The Rodeo Club on Summer Av.
In the fall of 1965. Bass player Mike Lineberger managed the music department in Dixiemart and gave me a job
stocking records. It was Christmas time and one of the first boxes I opened was Rubber Soul by The Beatles.I
only worked there through Christmas, got a lot of records that year. Both my job and the band ended early 1966.
The Triffids – 1966-67
The Triffids were the next band I played in, soon making $20 a night in a little place called The Sugar Shack, in the
hatchie bottoms outside Memphis, a very wide open place. Played there on and off through 1966 and little of 67’.
Got to know a little bit about amphetamines, alcohol and prostitutes - I was 17. Hitch Hiked to San Francisco
California’s Haight Ashbury in September 1967. Things were changing very fast, you just had to grab hold and
The Shaparrails – 1967-68
Join The Shaparrails winter of 1967, they were on the road and their drummer quit, so I met them in Pensacola
Florida. They had been together for a few years and their drummer was a big part of the band. He was hard to
replace, I really never did get relaxed and comfortable. But I stayed with them for little over a year. I was now
playing a set of Rodgers drums. LSD came into the mix that year for me, it was all crazy and fun at the same time.
The lead singer Richard and the band decided to part ways, and with that the drummer came back.
The end for me.
The Richard Beckham Band – 1968-69
Richard and I left The Shaparrails at the same time in Fort Myers Florida. A Memphis disc jockey at WHBQ liked
Richard and was going to help us get a band going, introducing us to Norman Brown. We played the Devil's Den
for two or three months and I ended up getting married - things changed.
Sandlin & Co. – 1970
Billy Sandlin, from Ocala Florida was in Memphis trying to get a record deal. As he was getting ready to go out on
the road, his drummer and bass player quit. He was a little more on the country side than I liked, but I
needed the job bad. We ended up a few months later in Daytona Beach, a real nice club making pretty good
money. We all had to much to drink one night and the sax player quit. He was a big part of the show, so that
Sandlin – 1970 – 71
We came back to Memphis to regroup, got Norman Brown on guitar. Now we started sounding more rock. I had
more fun in this band than any other, we were good too. Sad to say, Billy got killed in a car crash. The End..
Toad – 1971
This was the loudest and heaviest band I ever played in. We didn’t make any money, but we were loud and
hard going, a very heavy metal band before it’s time. We played Ashler Hall after Larry Raspberry and The
Highsteppers one night, got fired after the first song, had to call the police to make us stop playing. It was wild
man. We got Richard Beckham to do The Kingsbury Prom with us..called it Levi & Toad - We played around for a
few months and it just ended,had to be.
Finley – 1971-72
Only did one job with Finley Brown, The Bachelor & Three in Frayser. We played there for a month, it seem like
a year. I was so sick of clubs, drugs, drink, completely burned out . I took a break from music and bars for over a
year. I got myself an acoustic guitar.
The Shaparrails 2 – 1974 -76
This band changed from week to week, bass players, guitar player and even drummers. It was a bar band, mostly
playing at Harper’s or Club 70. We all wanted something to happen, but no one was trying to make it happen. Just
one big party, having lots of fun. Not sure what happen at the end of it, just fill apart.
The RiverBluff Band – 1976 – 77
When this group of musicians got together it worked from the start, felt good the first night. We didn’t know
each other so we called our self Bluff, a name I came up with on the spot. It started at The El Toro Lounge in West
Memphis. Times were bad for the club, so we used it to rehearse in for a few weeks. We got enough music
together for 3 sets and decided it was time to show it. First stop was a bar on Summer we heard about needing
a band, it was in Ramada Inn. They were remodeling it for a new place called Rosie O’Grady’s. We all got new
equipment, nice sound system, B3 -w- leslie, new amps, guitars and drums. We all dressed alike and had some
real sharp suits. Had a big new van to travel in, and was making good money. Had a studio interested in us and all
was well. The road killed all the dreams,having families and traveling was too much.
Multitrack Recording - 1977 - 1980
I never wanted to play drums in a bar band again, and after RiverBluff broke up – I started playing guitar and
piano some. Most of my music energy was in writing and recording my own songs, and that’s what I did for the
next few years. Got a day job in a machine shop and bought my first multitrack recorder, a four track Teac. I
produced my first 3 songs on it, "Hemingway" being my first. I learned how to bounce tracks so I was getting
seven tracks out of the four track machine, really having lots of fun. My daddy passed away October 1980 and
Richard came by to give his condolences. He asked if I would be interested in playing in a band again, I told him I
would if I could play guitar - with that we started Scrap, the band. I traded in my 8-track recording console for 16
track live console.
Scrap – 1980 – 81
Hooking up with old friends, we started a group with me on rhythm guitar and piano. We were setting in Maxine
Steward’s Club talking about working for her, when she left the table to talk to someone else, we realized we
needed a name. I was using Scrap Recycled Music to write under, so we all decided to call the band Scrap. We
had great 3 part harmony and was having a lot of fun on stage, and people picked up on that. We did put on a
very good show. Every body in the band bought something new, lights, sound systems, I even got a van to carry
it all in. We did some really big shows, Barlett Festival. But the wheels got to going so fast it blew apart and down
Home Recording - 1982 - 1990
Once again I stopped going to nightclubs and spent most of my off time in my studio at home. I had a full-time job
working for Procter & Gamble in the machine shop. I really didn't want be in a band anymore, playing nightclubs
and staying out all night, I had become a homebody. Our youngest girl Anna was born in 82, the
most precious thing ever, so I was satisfied at home. When she was just four & five years old she would come in
the studio and play with the drums, synthesizer and even signing on the microphones. She help me do a few
songs, I enjoy that more than anything. I lost my way somewhere and stopped having fun with her mother, at the
end of 1989 my worst nightmare started.
BackDoor Studio – 1990 – 2005
After my marriage of 20 years fell apart, I was cast out into the darkness and ended up on Getwell Rd in a run
down little house I turned into a demo recording studio. I had always had one room in all my homes dedicated
to my music, in this one it was all the rooms and not a home. If I had been in the right frame of mine, this would
have been a dream come true..but I wasn’t. It went from bad to bad bad and then worst of the bad. I had some fun,
but I had to numb the pain with alcohol and drugs. It all got out of hand, I didn’t know if I was coming or going. If
this was my chance I blew it. At first I tried to make money off it, it almost killed my love for music. I don’t like being
behind the music, I am for sure not a manager. We had a few magic moments, way to few. I guess it was mostly
turmoil. I just had to let it go. I did get RockingChair Studio to master 21 of my songs, the 4tk,8tk and 16tk , called it
"Yonderman's Demo". I think I got 100 CD made and gave most of them away.
Scrap Recycled Music Cherrydale - 2006 - 2011
I moved out of the studio on Getwell Rd. and into a regular house on Cherrydale.I still had all my recording
equipment but I was now using mostly ProTools. I stopped writing and recording with others and started this
solo deal in 2006. It takes a long time to do stuff by yourself. The hardest part of working by yourself is when the
drums are all the way across the room. It took time, 600 hours in a few years. So I decided to let others hear it. I
got Nix at Ardent Studio to master it.I released it under CD Baby, they put it in all the known places, Itunes and so
on. As far as I know it didn't sell any, I'm not a manager or salesman. So on that note, my CD "Scrap Recycled
Music" was a flop. It had one really good song on it I think, "A True Love", still no sales.
The Cherrydale Project 2012 - 2015
I started another CD "Ardor" first part of 2012. It was the best I can do,13 songs and I mastered it on some new
software from IK Multimedia called TrackS. It took three years to do, almost 800 hours. Another solo deal, don't
know anybody anymore. I enjoyed doing it. It didn't start out to be a CD just writing music. Same deal, I don't
know how to promote, I don't play live anymore and I can't ask people to buy my CD. It's most likely my last CD,
I'm doing video to YouTube on all my new stuff, and some of my old. I don't have any ambition to "make it"
anymore. I would like to write a song that means something. One that Bob Dylan would cover, it's not likely - thats
not going to stop me from trying...
Not a lot going on, writing music and doing videos. I'm enjoying doing video almost as much as
recording songs, both help me cope with life. I'm 69 now and just wrote my 70th song, I guess one to grow on. It's
a political song about the stuff going on in Washington and all over this country, too many guns and to many
people dying. So working a day job to pay bills and working on my music when I can. If I could do it over again I'm
not sure what I would change, maybe save more money so I could retire. Be closer to my kids and loved ones.
Roger Van Christopher born August 11, 1949 in Memphis Tennessee
Roger Van Christopher born August 11, 1949 in Memphis Tennessee