When he agreed to an interview, I sat for an hour writing and then re-writing questions. Many ideas came to mind but I narrrowed it down to a few topics. I came up with some questions that I hoped would allow him to share with us some of his unique knowledge of the music industry, both as Patty's first manager as well as subsequent involvement.
Eddie: Thank you for stopping by and talking with us for a bit. We haven't heard from you in a while and know you've had some health problems. How are you and are you still involved in the music industry ?
Roger: I'm still alive! Which wouldn't be true had I not been forced to retire. I keep in touch with some of my old friends in the music industry, but I don't work in the industry any longer. I've had several artists ask me to manage them and I was tempted a couple times, and I've had a few other offers to book country music shows, work for a publishing company, and even to manage a record store. But I prefer living to not, so other than judging a talent show now and then, I am retired.
Eddie: Can you tell us what influences in your life led you to choose a career in music. and how that led to the "Swinging Rameys" as well as and the circumstances that led to the decision to head to Nashville in the early 1970's ?
Eddie: After Patty went off to North Carolina, did you continue your career in Nashville?
Roger: Yes. Actually, I was living and working in Nashville before Patty moved there the first time. After she moved to North Carolina, I worked several places associated with the music industry. I supervised two gift shops, three record stores (Music Mart), and two western wear stores (The Nashville Cowboy). Then I was the Executive Director for the Country Music Wax Museum. I also moved to Los Angeles for about six months to study drama.
Eddie: In helping Patty give Nashville another shot, can you tell us about some of the people you met and the experiences you had as her manager?
And let me think about my experiences. I remember sitting around and singing with Boxcar Willie and Alabama. And I remember our European tour. But I guess my favorite memory would be signing Patty to MCA. Before Patty moved back to Nashville, I told her I could get her a deal with a major label (not knowing it would be true). Then, once she moved back, we set about making
Eddie: It seems that there are many musical branches in your family tree. Can you tell us your exact relations with Loretta Lynn and Crystal Gayle? We know that you are 'distant cousins' but could you be more specific please?
Eddie: Thinking back through all your experiences, is there something that you consider to be your proudest moment?
Roger: Being proud of Patty is something I've had quite a bit of experience at. I was really proud a couple years ago when she became only the second woman in history to win the CMA's Album of the Year award for When Fallen Angels Fly, and then followed that up by winning Female Vocalist the next year. In the meantime, she was also named the ACM's Female Vocalist two years in a row. It also makes me proud when I hear how other artists feel about Patty. She has sung with several of the new male artists including Tim McGraw, John Berry, Wade Hayes, etc. and it thrills me to hear them say that Patty makes the song so much better. Many of the new girl stars such as Martina McBride, Sara Evans, Anita Cochran list Patty as one of their biggest influences; many other artists say Patty is one of their favorites. I suppose my proudest moment would either be when MCA signed Patty to her first record contract, or when she was inducted as a member of the Opry.
Eddie: If you can step away from being Patty's brother and all the hard work you did as her first manager, do you have another favorite singer ?
Roger: My all-time favorite singer (tied with Patty) is our sister Dottie. She was my first singing partner and had a fantastic stage presence. She toured some with the Osborne Brothers before deciding to marry and raise a family. After her and Patty, my favorites are Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, and Connie Smith. Of course Loretta is our cousin, but Dolly and Connie are like family too.
Eddie: What about a favorite song ?
Roger: I've got lots of favorite songs by various artists, but if I had to pick one, I'd choose "I Did". Patty wrote "I Did" as a teenager, and when she returned to Nashville (from North Carolina) to record a demo, I wanted her to include it. She didn't think the song was good enough, but thankfully I persuaded her. I told her "I Did" would get her a record deal, and it sure did.
Eddie's Note: We profiled "I Did" in our July 1999 Newsletter. For those who missed it, here is a link for you to enjoy: July 99 - I Did
Eddie: OK, here is your chance to jump up on the soapbox :). You've told us about what you like. Do you have any pet peeves ?
Roger: Country music that's not country music! Artists winning awards for reasons other than talent! Radio not playing older artists! Thankfully, country music seems to go in cycles. I think we're on the verge of seeing a shift back to more traditional (and less pop) country music.
Eddie: You've said that you're retired but something tells us that you aren't the kind to sit around in a rocking chair. What hobbies and interests do you pursue these days ?
Roger: Even though I'm retired from the music industry, I still keep up with what's going on in Nashville. I still get the major weekly record charts and watch TNN and CMT. I listen to country radio and CD's. And of course, I can always get the inside scoop from Patty! Other than country music, I like to take walks, visit with my family and friends, and cook. I've always enjoyed cooking, and I'm pretty good at it. I mostly do country cooking like meatloaf or steak and gravy, but I also cook some Italian dishes as well. I've also got a recipe for hot dog chili that's unbeatable. When Patty was on tour with Vince Gill (who's a big fan of chili dogs), I gave her some of my chili and told her to make sure Vince got to try some. He never got a bite. Her crew ate every bit of it on the bus, before he even got a chance.
Eddie: At our site, we receive a lot of mail from young people. It seems Patty is a role model for many young girls and they look up to her. One girl in particular wrote us about her aspiration to be a country singer like Patty. Based on what you know about the music industry, what advice would you give her?
Roger: The best advice I could give to any young person is to study hard and finish school. Learn as much as you can - you may not think it will ever help you, but you never know. Also, believe in yourself. Be dedicated to whatever career you choose, and don't ever lose faith. And if you do try to make it in the entertainment field, pray for a little good luck!
Roger, you have had a very unique role in helping your sister achieve the level of success she's had. Her talent is God-given and wonderful, but without the help of you and others along the way to achieve that success, things may have turned out differently. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.