From post-bop and blaxploitation to one of the most sampled artists in hip-hop, Roy Ayers is a musician for the ages. Check out our Fireside Chat with the legend...
Everybody loves the sunshine and everybody loves Roy Ayers, the vibraphonist who recorded a string of classic soul and funk jams including the likes of 'Running Away', 'Get On Up', or Sylvia Striplin's 'You Can't Turn Me Away'.
At the age of five, Lionel Hampton gave him his first pair of mallets, which led to the vibraphone being his trademark instrument. The area of Los Angeles that Ayers grew up in, now known as South Central was the epicenter of the Southern California Black Music Scene when he started performing and recording in the 1960s.
Ayers was responsible for the highly regarded soundtrack to Jack Hill’s 1973 blaxploitation film Coffy, starring Pam Grier (Foxy Brown, Jackie Brown). He later moved from a jazz-funk sound to R&B, as seen on Mystic Voyage, which featured the songs "Evolution" and the underground disco hit "Brother Green (The Disco King)", as well as the title track from his 1976 album Everybody Loves The Sunshine, which underwent an evolution by itself with Erykah Badu in 2004.
In his later career, Roy collaborated with Fela Kuti, the king of Afrobeat, released several albums on hip-hop label Ichiban, and ventured into house music with Kerri Chandler and Masters At Work.
Ayers might be the most sampled artist in hip-hop alongside James Brown, and it's this legacy that's explored in the documentary The Roy Ayers Project (out in March 2012) - a film which features many prominent hip-hop producers paying homage to the vibes-man. Roy Ayers' song "Funk In The Hole" also appears in the Grand Theft Auto video game on the ficitious radio station Fusion FM (which he also hosts).
In this very special Fireside Chat on Red Bull Music Academy Radio, Roy talks about his mentors the US goodwill ambassador Lionel Hampton and keyboardist Jack Wilson, about playing with Sergio Mendes under false names, how all of his really successful songs were improvisations and how sampling pays his bills.
Roy Ayers - Virgo Vibes (Outside Blues) - Atlantic
The Jack Wilson Quartet feat Roy Ayers - Blues We Use (LP Version) - Atlantic
Lionel Hampton And His Orchestra - Flying Home - Mercury
Justo Almario - Interlude - Uno Melodic
Ethel Beatty - It's Your Love - Uno Melodic
Sylvia Striplin - You Can't Turn Me Away - Uno Melodic
Roy Ayers - D.C. City - Uno Melodic
Roy Ayers - Chicago - Uno Melodic
Roy Ayers - Kwajilori - Rapster
Roy Ayers Ubiquity - Running Away - Polydor
Roy Ayers - Love From The Sun - Polydor
Roy Ayers - What You Won't Do for Love – Polydor