I was light-man for Roller. I never played in the band. But it was my first experience with Rock & Roll. My first time on the road. Hotels. Clubs. Traveling. Drinking. Drugs. Starvation. Paying dues. All that good stuff. I was going to add women to that list. But the women didn’t notice the crew. At least not that I noticed (well, there was that one time in Myrtle Beach when a bartender kept swinging her legs over the bar and showing me all the glories that God had given her).
I was light-man for this band. If you don’t think being a light-man for a rock band is paying dues, you can kiss my ass. I carried heavy equipment. I helped set up the show. And while the musicians were backstage getting primed to come out and live their rock & roll fantasy, I was working. That’s paying dues, my friends. Running lights for this band, and later running sound, gave me an insight into production that I don’t think many musicians have. Personally, I think they suffer for it.
There’s not an awful lot I can say about this band. I loved the guys in the band. I traveled with them through Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina and parts of Alabama. For a 17 year old, that was extensive traveling. At least in my book.
I was with the band until its untimely demise in late 1983, though I was still around them as the band limped along into 1984. Roller’s final days were spent in the Roller Arcade in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, where the band re-grouped for a revival that never came. Roller didn’t really break up as much as it just sort of disintegrated.
I learned a lot from Roller. I learned a lot about stage production. You have to learn a lot about how to put on a good show when your stage lights are each made from two one-gallon aluminum cans that have been welded together, with a flood light mounted in one end and a jerry-rigged gel bracket on the other. You learn to do a lot with very little. You also quickly learn how many musicians think the lights and stage production is of secondary importance to their God-given natural charisma.
I also learned how quickly people’s heads swell out of proportion. How damaging drugs can be. How sad and fucking desperate it seems when the crowds have gone away and musicians are clinging to that last bit of glory by inviting locals to practice sessions to squeeze out that last little bit of applause. Roller had a lot of potential. They were a tight, jamming band, and had started generating a good buzz in the clubs they played in. Who knows where Roller might have gone if they’d just kept playing? If the music was enough, and they could have kept that damned white powder out of their noses?
- Danny “Red” Bridges – lead guitar
- J.B. Nicholson – vocals, lead guitar
- Chris Short – rhythm guitar
- Mark Short – vocals, bass
- Buddy Broome
- Junior Howell
- Scott Christenbury