Born: November 29, 1949 in Hamilton, Ontario as Stanley Allison Rogers; Died: June 2, 1983 in Cincinnati.
Hamilton born Stan Rogers began in music honestly as he was always surrounded by many styles of music performed by uncles who sang and played guitar. Rogers got his first guitar at 5, built by an uncle out of birch plywood, welding rods and a toothbrush. Intellectually ahead of his peers by high school, Rogers began playing music in earnest. His first step into the limelight was at club-gigs as bassist for Hamilton pick-up rock bands.
In 1970 Rogers signed to RCA Records out of Toronto and recorded two singles for them - "Here's To You Santa Claus" (1970) and "The Fat Girl Rag" (1971) - which was followed by a self-titled LP in 1971. During his contract with RCA he also wrote songs recorded by Quebecois group Le Maitre. By 1973 he had moved over to Vanguard Records in New York (home of Joan Baez) but nothing came from that alliance. He did manage three more singles for Polygram in 1973 and 1974 but met with no success.
By the mid-'70s, he was commissioned to work on Canadian Broadcast Corporation documentaries on aspects of Canadian life. Though raised in rural Hannon, Ontario, Rogers spent summers with family in Nova Scotia, and became influenced by the lives of fishermen and the sea. As his interests grew towards folk music, his Aunt June in Canso, Nova Scotia, persuaded him to write songs about his familial home.
But it was the fruit of those early songs that found their way onto Rogers' first independent album 'Fogarty's Cove' (1976) which was released on his friend Mitch Podolak's Barn Swallow Records. Critics went so far as calling this small indie release the 'Folk Album Of The Year'.
Inspired, Rogers quickly set about recording the next album and informed Podolak that he would be spending a modest some of Barn Swallow's money. Podolak was too busy organizing the Winnipeg Folk Festival and agreed to sell the record label and the masters to Rogers. Needing money to do this, Rogers' mother, Valerie, stepped in and offered her son her life savings to launch not only the album, 'Turnaround', but a a new label and mail order business to promote it. He simultaneously re-issued 'Fogarty's Cove' and gave his imprint the album's name.
With two albums under his belt Rogers began playing better establishments with his band featuring his brother Garnet, Dave Alan Eadie, Grit Laskin, and Paul Mills. The performances were inspiring and so Rogers decided to capture the moments on vinyl with 'Between The Breaks...Live!' (1979).
The live album was quite a success as it opened the doors for performances in Western Canada which would have a profound influence on Rogers' writing. He began to discover that he could write about parts of the country other than the Maritimes, and following the tour of Western Canada, went home to write songs for his 'concept' record 'Northwest Passage' (1981).
Rogers stepped out of his independent niche temporarily with a traditional acoustic folk album, 'For The Family', on Folk Tradition Records in 1983, but went back to his own order of business with his final studio album 'From Fresh Water' in 1984.
With his brother, Garnet, on fiddle and Jim Morrison on bass, he travelled North America establishing a national identity for Canadian songwriting which was highly successful as attested to by his popularity before and after his death.
On June 2, 1983, Rogers was headed home from the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas. A fire started in the restroom on Air Canada flight 797. It was forced to land in the Greater Cincinatti Airport. Rogers was one of 23 people who died of smoke inhalation. He was 33.
Memorials and honours were numerous in the months that followed and in May, 1984 he was posthumously awarded the Diplome d'Honneur by the Canadian Conference of the Arts.
In the mid'90's many of Canada's leading Celtic and Folk artists banded together and inspired by Rogers' brother Garnet to record a fitting tribute to the late artist.
with notes from Garnet Rogers and Mitch Podolak.
1970 Here's To You Santa Claus (RCA)
1971 The Fat Girl Rag (RCA)
1973 Three Pennies (Polygram)
1973 Guysborough Train (Polygram)
1973 Passed Fifty (Polygram)
1971 Stan Rogers (RCA)
1976 Fogarty's Cove (Barn Swallow)
1978 Fogarty's Cove [re-issue] (Fogarty's Cove)
1978 Turnaround (Fogarty's Cove)
1979 Between The Breaks...Live! (Fogarty's Cove)
1981 Northwest Passage (Fogarty's Cove)
1983 For The Family (Folk Tradition)
1984 From Fresh Water (Fogarty's Cove)
1992 Home In Halifax (Fogarty's Cove)
1996 Poetic Justice (Fogarty's Cove)
198? One Warm Line: The Legacy Of Stan Rogers (Fogarty's Cove)
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