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Roy Ayers

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Information about Roy Ayers

Profile image of Roy Ayers

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Jazz Composer
Vibraphonist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red
Favorite Food:
Shrimp
Favorite Time of Year:
Christmas
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Mexico
Favorite Quote:
What's Up?

Birthplace

Born:
9/10/1940
Birth Location:
Los Angeles, California

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Jazz Composer
Vibraphonist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red
Favorite Food:
Shrimp
Favorite Time of Year:
Christmas
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Mexico
Favorite Quote:
What's Up?

Birthplace

Born:
9/10/1940
Birth Location:
Los Angeles
See how Roy Ayers is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Jazz composer and vibraphonist Roy Ayers was born on September 10, 1940 in Los Angeles, California to Ruby Ayers and Roy Ayers, Sr. Ayers’ mother, a schoolteacher and piano instructor, began teaching him music when he was only a toddler. Growing up near Central Avenue, the heart of the West Coast jazz scene, Ayers was exposed to local luminaries from an early age. At five years old, Ayers was given his first set of vibraphone mallets by bandleader Lionel Hampton. Ayers attended Thomas Jefferson High School, where many of his classmates also went on to become famous jazz and R&B artists.

Ayers first played steel guitar and piano and did not study the vibraphone until meeting vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson at age seventeen. At twenty-two, Ayers began his prolific recording career as a sideman for jazz saxophonist Curtis Amy. In 1963, Ayers released his first album, West Coast Vibes, and went on to record with the Jack Wilson Quartet, Chico Hamilton, and the Gerald Wilson Orchestra in the 1960s, before joining up with jazz flutist Herbie Mann at The Lighthouse club in Hermosa Beach, California. Mann produced three of Ayers’ albums for Atlantic Records, and Ayers was a principal soloist on Mann’s hit album Memphis Underground. In 1970, Ayers moved to Manhattan and formed Roy Ayers Ubiquity, marking his move into jazz fusion. Ubiquity released a number of records on Polydor Records, including hits like ‘We Live in Brooklyn’ and ‘Everybody Loves the Sunshine.’ As the decade closed, Ayers went solo with songs like Let’s Do It. In 1980, Ayers began collaborating with Nigerian musician Fela Kuti and formed Uno Melodic Records. Ayers considered In The Dark, released on Columbia Records in 1984, as one of his best recordings.

He continued releasing yearly albums through the 1990s. At the same time, Ayers’ work was remixed, covered, and sampled by the emerging hip hop generation that included such artists as Mos Def, Puff Daddy, and Mary J. Blige. In 1993, Ayers appeared on Gang Starr rapper Guru’s Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1, one of the first albums to combine a live jazz band with hip hop production. Singer Erykah Badu has dubbed Ayers the Godfather of Neo-Soul.

Roy Ayers was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 19, 2016.

See how Roy Ayers is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Roy Ayers' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Royer Ayers lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Roy Ayers describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Roy Ayers describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Roy Ayers describes his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Roy Ayers recalls the South Central neighborhood of Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Roy Ayers describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Roy Ayers talks about the Civil Rights Movement in Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Roy Ayers recalls his early interest in music
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Roy Ayers remembers Thomas Jefferson High School in Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Roy Ayers remembers Bobby Hutcherson
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Roy Ayers remembers his early musical work with Curtis Amy
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Roy Ayers talks about recording his first solo album, 'West Coast Vibes'
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Roy Ayers describes his musical influences
  • Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Roy Ayers remembers performing with Chico Hamilton
  • Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Roy Ayers describes his collaboration with Gerald Wilson
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Roy Ayers recalls touring with Herbie Mann
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Roy Ayers recalls his musical collaboration with Sadao Watanabe
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Roy Ayers remembers the release of 'Virgo Vibes'
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Roy Ayers describes the 'Stoned Soul Picnic' and 'Daddy Bug' albums
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Roy Ayers recalls the formation of Roy Ayers Ubiquity
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Roy Ayers talks about the hit song 'We Live in Brooklyn Baby'
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Roy Ayers remembers signing a contract with Polydor Records
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Roy Ayers recalls composing the soundtrack to 'Coffy'
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Roy Ayers describes talks about the popularity of his music among hip hop artists
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Roy Ayers recalls leaving Polydor Records
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Roy Ayers talks about organizing the musical group RAMP
  • Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Roy Ayers talks about his inspiration for 'Everybody Loves the Sunshine'
  • Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Roy Ayers describes his friendship with Fela Kuti
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Roy Ayers talks about Fela Kuti
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Roy Ayers talks about the sampling of his music
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Roy Ayers talks about founding Uno Melodic Records
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Roy Ayers describes the musical style of his album, 'In the Dark'
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Roy Ayers recalls his collaboration with Lonnie Liston Smith
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Roy Ayers remembers the honorary Roy Ayers Day in Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Roy Ayers recalls performing at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London, England
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Roy Ayers talks about the political messages of his music
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Roy Ayers talks about his collaborations with hip hop artists
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Roy Ayers reflects upon his creative process
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Roy Ayers describes his wife
  • Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Roy Ayers describes his plans for the future
  • Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Roy Ayers reflects upon his life and legacy
  • Tape: 3 Story: 14 - Roy Ayers talks about James Baldwin
  • Tape: 3 Story: 15 - Roy Ayers reflects upon his career