b. 10th September 1940, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Roy Ayers is a highly popular jazz vibraphonist and vocalist.
He reached the peak of his commercial popularity during the mid-70s and early 80's, whilst signed to the Polydor label, his album release ratio becoming quite prolific at various stages.
Roy played piano as a child (his father played trombone, his mother taught him the piano) and took an interest in the vibes after the late Lionel Hampton gave him his first vibraphone mallets when he was just five years old.
It wasn't until he became a teenager, that he took up the instrument seriously.
He grew up in the South Central area of Los Angeles and attended various schools including the Wadsworth Elementary, Nevins Middle School, and Thomas Jefferson High School.
The latter institution was the educational school attended by Dexter Gordon amongst other musicians.
At school Roy formed his first group, the Latin Lyrics, and in the early 60's began working professionally with the late flautist / saxophonist Curtis Edward Amy during 1962 (who later played the solo on the Carole King song 'It's Too Late').
jack wilson / roy ayers - 1965
He recorded with Jack Wilson (between 1963 and 1967), dovetailing his recording chores with the Gerald Wilson Orchestra (between 1965 and 1966).
west coast vibes - 1964 / virgo vibes - 1967
Roy's first solo album was 'West Coast Vibes' on United Artists Records in 1964, an album that featured Curtis Amy.
He also worked with Chico Hamilton, Teddy Edwards, Phineas Newborn, Hampton Hawes and Herbie Mann (at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach), with whom he first gained prominence between 1966 and 1970.
daddy bug - 1967 / stoned soul picnic - 1968
He recorded three albums for Atlantic Records in the late 60's.
In 1971, Roy formed Roy Ayers Ubiquity, which moved him into a more fusion based sound.
he's coming - 1971 / ubiquity - 1971
He released 'He's Coming' in 1971, which contained the rare groove 'We Live In Brooklyn, Baby'.
coffy - 1973 / virgo red - 1973
Two years later he provided the soundtrack to the Jack Hill blaxploitation film 'Coffy', which starred Pam Grier.
red, black and green - 1973 / change up the groove - 1974 / a tear to a smile - 1975 / mystic voyage - 1975
Between 1973 and 1975, Roy released 5 Polydor albums, all of which were later to become real collectors items, 'Virgo Red', 'Red, Black & Green', 'Change Up The Groove', 'A Tear To A Smile' and 'Mystic Voyage'.
vibrations - 1976 / everybody loves the sunshine - 1977 / lifeline - 1977 / let's do it - 1978
Fusion became R&B during the mid Seventies for Roy, after signing for the Polydor imprint, with albums such as his 1976 album 'Everybody Loves the Sunshine', featuring 'Hey, Uh, Whatcha Say Come On' and the title song, becoming hugely popular on the Soul circuit.
In 1977, Roy produced an album by the group RAMP, entitled 'Come Into Knowledge', which stood for Roy Ayers Musical Productions, a fact verified by the group at their London Jazz Cafe shows of 2006.
In 1978, he released 'Running Away' as a single (taken from his 1977 album 'Lifeline') which quickly became a favourite amongst fans.
Roy was under contract to Polydor for several future album releases, which saw him releasing up to two albums a year during this period.
you send me - 1978 / fever - 1979 / no stranger to love - 1979 / love fantasy - 1980
'You Send Me' and 'Lifeline' both saw the light of day during 1978, with four further albums 'Fever' (featuring 'Love Will Bring Us Back Together'), 'You Send Me' (featuring 'Can't You See Me'), 'Love Fantasy' (featuring 'Sometimes Believe In Yourself') and 'No Stranger To Love' (featuring 'Don't Stop The Feeling' and 'Don't Let Our Love Slip Away') all being released over the following year.
music of many colours - 1980 / africa, center of the world - 1981
'Music Of Many Colors' was also released in 1980, a collaboration with with the African artist Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.
This association came together again on Roy's album 'Africa, Center Of The World', a hugely popular album, which included 'There's A Masterplan', 'Land Of Fruit and Honey' and 'The River Niger'.
In the early Eighties, Roy had set up his own label called Uno Melodic.
The subsequent releases on the label became hugely collectable during the rare groove movement later that decade.
He finally departed the Polydor imprint in 1983, relocating to Columbia Records for a couple of years.
During the mid Eighties, Roy's albums continued to be successful.
feeling good - 1981 / silver vibrations - 1983 / in the dark - 1984 / you might be surprised - 1985
These included, 'In The Dark' (from 1984 including 'Poo Poo La La') and 'You Might Be Surprised' (in 1985 including 'Programmed For Love').
During the 1990s, Roy released several albums for the Ichiban Records imprint.
i'm the one (for your love tonite) - 1987 / mahogany vibe - 2005
He also made a guest appearance on the late Guru's album 'Jazzmatazz' in 1993 and played at New York clubs with Guru and Donald Byrd.
During the new millennium, Roy frequently performs live, especially for seasonal, week long shows at London's Jazz Cafe.
West Coast Vibes (United Artists Records 1964)
Virgo Vibes (Atlantic Records 1967)
Stoned Soul Picnic (Atlantic Records 1968)
Daddy's Back (Atlantic Records 1969)
Ubiquity (Polydor Records 1970)
He's Coming (Polydor Records 1971)
Live At Montreux (Polydor Records 1972)
Red, Black And Green (Polydor Records 1973)
Virgo Red (Polydor Records 1974)
Change Up The Groove (Polydor Records 1974)
A Tear To A Smile (Polydor Records 1975)
Mystic Voyage (Polydor Records 1976)
Everybody Loves The Sunshine (Polydor Records 1976)
Vibrations (Polydor Records 1976)
Lifeline (Polydor Records 1977)
Starbooty (Polydor Records 1978)
Let's Do It (Polydor Records 1978)
You Send Me (Polydor Records 1978)
with Wayne Henderson: Step Into Our Life (Polydor Records 1978)
Fever (Polydor Records 1979)
No Stranger To Love (Polydor Records 1979)
Love Fantasy (Polydor Records 1980)
with Wayne Henderson: Prime Time (Polydor Records 1980)
Africa, Center Of The World (Polydor Records 1981)
Feeling Good (Polydor Records 1982)
Drivin' On Up (Polydor Records 1983)
Silver Vibrations (Polydor Records 1983)
In The Dark (Columbia Records 1984)
You Might Be Surprised (Columbia Records 1985)
I'm The One (For Your Love Tonight) (Columbia Records 1987)
Drive (Ichiban Records 1988)
Wake Up (Ichiban Records 1989)
Easy Money: Live At Ronnie Scott's (Essential Records 1990)
Rare (Polydor Records 1990)
Rare Vol II (Polydor Records 1990)
Searchin' (Ronnie Scott's Jazz House Records 1993)
Hot (Ronnie Scott's Jazz House Records 1993)
Nasté (Groovetown Records 1995)
Smooth Jazz (Groovetown Records 1999)
Mahogany Vibe (2003)