City Cabaret Remembers...
(February 4, 1933- October 26, 1995) .
"I make a conscious attempt to blend in musically to the mood and mood swings of the room."
He was extraordinary, a man loved by everyone with whom he came in contact. That love showed in his face, in his smile, and it poured through his fingers to make extraordinary music. And could he play that piano!
But Roy Glover was more than a pianist. From the night he opened Rainbow & Stars for Tony Bennett, until his last evenings there in 1995, Roy made those stars sparkle. He set up the room for the entertainment to follow. He created an ambiance of glamour and excitement and warmth and anticipation. Virtually everyone who came to Rainbow & Stars during Roy's reign remembers him and misses him sorely.
Born and raised in New York City, one of four children, Roy Glover attended Music and Art High School. From age 14, he played piano and organ in church. After graduation, he served three years in the army, performing with First Army Band, where he wrote for and directed a 17-piece jazz orchestra. At the same time, he studied trumpet, clarinet, alto sax, vibraphone and bass.
After the army, Roy entered Manhattan School of Music, studying music theory, arranging, composition, and orchestration. He graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree, supporting his education and furthering his career at the same time by playing jazz organ at the famed Savoy Ballroom, with jazz trumpeter Cootie Williams. He went on to head a Jazz Organ Trio, and he was popular in Manhattan's "uptown circuit", including famed clubs like, Count Basie's, The Baby Grand, and Well's.
Roy developed into a talented music arranger, orchestrator and composer, studying with Dr. Maury Deutsch. Into both his performances and his compositions, he incorporated all the music of his life and his experiences, from classical to jazz, gospel to blues, and even military.
He moved into the recording studios and worked as a session arranger and musical director for such top-10 performers as Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions, Connie Francis, Bobby Vinton, The Platters, Maxine Brown, Damita Jo, The Drifters, Ben E. King, Moms Mabley, and Patti LaBelle. Artists including Cissy Houston, Ashford and Simpson, and Melba Moore sang background on many of his sessions. Roy himself is heard playing on scores of recordings -- listen to the organ solo on "Our Day Will Come" by Ruby and the Romantics. His influence is prevalent in hit songs such as, "If You Go Away" and "Abraham, Martin, and John".
Moving onto the large stage, Roy orchestrated stage work for superstars Smokey Robinson, and Neil Diamond. He was musical director for the live appearances of various other artists. These include Freda Payne, Ronnie Dyson, and Jeree Palmer Wade.
In the 1970's, Roy worked on Broadway. He was conductor, pianist, and vocal coach for Two Gentlemen of Verona. Nationally and internationally he toured with the casts of Bubbling Brown Sugar and Leader Of the Pack. He was orchestra conductor and pianist in the touring company of Duke Ellington's, Sophisticated Ladies, working with top theater performers like Gregory Hines, Hinton Battle, Phyllis Hyman, Judith Jamison, and Harold Nicholas. Roy was also assistant music director and pianist for Duke Ellington's opera, Queenie Pie.
He always wrote music, including ten original compositions, music and lyrics, for the feature film, Cane River. He composed, conducted, and arranged and performed on his own album, "What's A Man Supposed To Do?"
Roy loved performing, and he loved singing as well as playing piano. He added his own voice to the piano in clubs such as Regine's Cafe Reginette, Mortimer's, Top of the Sixes, Chez Josephine, Tavern on the Green, and Mrs. J.'s Sacred Cow. He also performed internationally.
Then late in 1988, Roy received an offer. Would he be interested in helping to launch a new cabaret room called Rainbow & Stars, atop Rockefeller Center? He would play solo piano before the opening show starring Tony Bennett. "Would I be interested! Give me a break!!"
He remained at the Rainbow & Stars for seven years, until mid-1995, when he was too sick to continue. The reason for his popularity? Roy was a modest man, and looking back in July 1995, his response was:
"My first three answers are always, '1-material, 2-material, 3-material.'...I try to adhere to the original material. I make a conscious attempt to blend in musically to the mood and mood swings of the room (which can vary dramatically and often)."
Roy performed twice nightly, a two-hour set prior to the dinner show and a one-hour set before the second show. Virtually no one knew how seriously ill he was, for his performances and his personality were always joyful.
Roy Glover was married to Marjorie for many
years. They raised three children, Leroy Glover, Andre and Michelle Enceneat. They enjoyed their granddaughter, Tjade. Roy's death on October 26, 1995 left bereft those
who were touched by him musically and personally. In November 1995, Rainbow
& Stars hosted a celebration honoring Roy Glover's life. The
room was filled with music, love, and Roy's friends, family, musical
colleagues, and performers who both worked with him or just knew him. They
raised glasses of champagne to toast Roy's life -- but they did not say,
. "To say the least, I feel very blessed, privileged and honored performing before the prestigious Rainbow & Stars audiences. Thank you very much for your continued support of my piano offerings."--Roy Glover.
Thank you, Roy Glover.
photos of Roy Glover courtesy of Marjorie Glover.
E-mail suggestions and comments to Ahlfors@citycabaret.com
© 2007 Elizabeth Ahlfors. All rights of this page and all other pages reserved by Elizabeth Ahlfors.