Liturgy for the New American Tribe
There is what is said to be unique, and then there is 'Mr. Rogers'. No, not the cardigan wearing kiddie-show host, but Michael Roger Rogers (with those initials, he has as much right to them as anyone.) Whether sporting around Los Angeles in his gleaming purple Jagallac (A hybrid auto he made from a 99 Jaguar and the rear wings of a 59 Cadillac) or giving a concert of classical music on the Steel drums, or traveling to Bali to record the sounds of the gamelan, or to Thailand to design the funny outfits he wears, Mr. Rogers always projects a larger-than-life presence. Those who have been into the pink marbled home he made for himself out of a seemingly unbuildable steep hillside in Laurel Canyon know it as a museum to the man's creative eccentricity...From the gloomy lower stairwell painted and decorated to reflect an Egyptian Tomb, to it's upper counterpart done as piano keys, to lamps made from saxophones and trombones, to the pink grand piano and spinning circular bed...But what of the man? By what circuitous path did he arrive at his present lifestyle? Born in Milwaukee in 1958 to a bizarre but truly American mix of Norwegian, Irish, Polish Catholic on one side, and Russian Jew and Bohemian gypsy on the other, Michael had traveled to all the continental states of the union by the age of ten as his parents satisfied their wanderlust before settling in Vero Beach, Florida. Beginning as a percussionist, Michael became an accomplished jazz drummer, playing professionally up and down the coast of Florida. By the age of 14, it was rumored that he was making more money than his father (they paid musicians back then). Science club president and winner of numerous creative writing awards, at seventeen, he attended The University of South Florida on an early admissions scholarship where he played in the Gulf Coast Symphony by night and studied the keyboard, and experimental electronic music composition by day. It was during this time that he first began to play his signature instrument, the steel drums-a vastly misunderstood Trinidadian invention-which he played 'Yellow Bird' and other standards for the tourists as an understudy to a Calypso master. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Rogers found himself in England studying at the Royal Academy of Music as part of an overall course of study at Brockwood Park of the Krishnamurti Foundation. His time there marked the beginning of the long friendship with the great philosopher, Krishnamurti, that culminated years later in a commission to write the scores for Krishnamurti's official film biographies 'With a Silent Mind', 'The Challenge of Change', 'The Next 100 Years' as well as religious scores for Yogananda and Muktananda and the 700 club. After a year of sabbatical studying music and philosophy in Europe, India, Africa and Asia, Michael landed a 3-year music scholarship at the University of Miami where he worked with Jaco Pastorius, Othello Molineaux, members of Bob Marleys Wailers and many others. In 1980 Michael loaded up his VW van and headed to the West Coast. On his very first night in LA, he was offered a musical appearance in the MGM movie 'Whose Life Is It Anyway?' Staring Richard Dryfuss. Word of mouth spread of his inspired steel drumming, singing, energized stage presence as he recorded with or produced numerous projects with various hit artists such as Eddie Murphy, Kim Carnes, Matthew Wilder, Bill Ward and Ozzie Osbourne from Black Sabbath, Chris Squire and 'Yes', No Effects, Bad Religion and several rap artists, including DJ Quick, Kid Frost, UZI Brothers, Easy E, and Mellow Man Ace. It was during this time that he built a state of the art professional recording studio in the Hollywood Hills where he recorded hundreds of musicians' projects, film scores, commercials and a dozen original albums that are still selling. The 1990's saw Michael making music and producing videos for Playboy TV's 'Hot Rocks, 'Strip Search,' 'Fax girl Playoffs' 'and 'Night Calls.' His house was used by Jenny McCarthy as well as scores of musical acts for location shooting, his eclectic cars appeared in Vogue and numerous TV advertising commercials for McDonald's, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Burger King and his music appeared in 'Beverly Hills 90210', and 'Baywatch Nights'- as well as a few cameo appearances by Michael in his trade mark bowler hat. True to his Gemini nature, he also worked on reforestation projects in Costa Rica as well as the Southern Sequoias, where he built a Balinesian inspired new home out of leftover building materials to house his growing collection of musical instruments from 'round the world.