Roy Sites was born a poor black child in a one room shanty house in Columbus Ohio on the wrong side of the tracks. He made his first guitar at the age of 10 out of a cardboard shoe box with strings made out of fishing line. He first learned to play from listing to Blind Lemon Lightning Gatemouth Brown records on a victrola his dad found at the local dumps during a family picnic. Sometime later Roy meets Robert Johnson they go to the crossroads and meet…well you know …The rest is history. Okay it’s history…it’s not HIS history but hey it reads like a good blues story!
Roy picked up the guitar in the mid sixties. He was immediately influenced by the Beatles and the Stones but at the tail end of the Summer Of Love he found Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Mike Bloomfeld, & all the Kings (Freddie Albert & BB) His guitar became part of his body and fairly soon, what he heard in his head could be played by his fingers. During the 70s Roy was in and out of numerous bands, none of which shared his passion for heavy blues guitar. Not content to play the Top 40, Roy sought out the best musicians in Cincinnati and formed the Cincinnati Kids. The group was an instant success. Roy found himself being voted into musicians poles as one of Ohio’s best guitarists, and then shockingly he was listed in the top 30 Blues guitarists of all time by an Ohio readers poll in 1974. And all this without a proper recording contract!
Finally when the bands popularity was at an all time high the lucrative record contract finally emerged. Capital Records agreed to a two album deal with a sizable advance of money. The promises of touring the United States and possibly Europe were laid on the table for the young band. It was only then that a 30 something year old Sites began to question details of the contract. His fellow band members were ready to sign in blood, Roy wanted an outside lawyer to review the 20 page contract. And this is where the story becomes that BLUES story. Capital would not consider changing ANYTHING in the contract, and wouldn’t even give Roy a copy to take to a lawyer. His fellow bandmates ganged up on Roy despite Roy pointing out HUGE flaws in the contract (Like having to pay for all your own touring expenses) After hours of arguing a Capital representative approached Roy and said: “Look this is a good as you’ll ever get, either you sign now or I’ll have you replaced within an hour” Roy Sites walked out of the building vowing to never deal with the “Music Business” ever again. Roy quickly put together a power trio, but lost interest in a very short time. In 1976 one of the greatest Blues guitarists in America put his guitar in it’s case and didn’t open it for almost 15 years.
As a side note: The Cincinnati Kids recorded one album for Capital, the album was never released, and the band broke up less than 6 months after Roy left.
It was at this point in his life that Roy decided it was time to “grow up” he married had a child, got a “normal job” and went back to school where over the next 10 years he would earn several degrees and publish several novels. Music seemed like a long forgotten dream. That was about to change.
One day in the late 1980s, while flicking through the TV channels, Roy unexpectedly stopped, on of all things, MTV. What he saw changed his life. On the TV was a song and more importantly THE SOUND Roy had always heard in his head, but never achieved. The guitarist singer sitting on a couch pulling guitar after guitar out from behind the couch while arguing with a woman. That guitarist was Stevie Ray Vaughn. The same day Roy went out and bought every Stevie Ray Vaughn record. Then from under his bed he dragged out the dusty old case that held his trusty Fender Stratocaster.
For the next several years Roy obsessed with Stevie as well as other up and coming blues artists. He slowly regained his playing “chops” and decided to find a band. It would seem that at this point all would work out great but hey…it’s a BLUES story. Roy tried for several years to find the right musicians to fulfill his musical dream. It seemed it just wasn’t meant to be. And Roy retired again.
In early 2000 bass guitarist Chris Ryan had a chance meeting with Roy Sites. Chris picks up the story: “He was at a jam session and was playing the most amazing guitar I had ever seen! I wished the guitarist in my then band had a 10th of Roys ability! We exchanged numbers and kept in touch. A few YEARS later I answered an ad for a bass guitarist and who was in the band but Roy! I was overwhelming happy, however what didn’t click was the drummer and I. We just saw things and music differently. After a short run I was FIRED from the band by the drummer. Oh well, I went on to form the heavy rock band NATION and never looked back.”
By 2005 Roy had retired for a 3rd time. He devoted his musical time to playing in his church band and writing and publishing books.
In 2008 Chris’s band NATION appeared to be on it’s last legs. Chris called Roy and asked him if he wanted to give it a go one last time. Although reluctantly, Roy agreed but ONLY if they found the perfect drummer, who shared in their vision of what they wanted to do musically. After 26 auditions Mr. Mark Vance entered their lives. Mark was perfect in every aspect and was more than excited to join this musical adventure. After prodding by Chris, the band was officially named THE ROY SITES BAND.
The musical areas the band is treading have NEVER been seen before in the Tampa Bay area. The band is a BLUES band, but injects healthy doses of many different styles into the traditional BLUES format. If you are a fan of MUSIC, not just the top 40, and want to hear without question one of the greatest guitarists in Tampa Bay…or anywhere, go see the ROY SITES BAND.
Edited by In2TheBlues on 16 Sep 2011, 12:34
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