New information about Freddie Roach

My interest in finding out what happened to Freddie Roach after he stopped recording continues. I’m not satisfied with the current Wikipedia entry which reads “…he moved to France, after which he was not heard of again.” FR deserves better than that.

By the end of last year what I had found out was that Freddie Roach died in 1980 (from Bob Blumenthal’s notes when taking ‘a new look’ at Ike Quebec’s ‘Heavy Soul’, which featured FR). There is also a line from the notes to So Blue so Funky, a Blue Note Hammond organ compilation album released in 1991, which claim that Freddie enjoyed a second career as a movie actor. These were penned by Roy Carr, who had undertaken UK publicity work for Blue Note in the 60’s and is regarded as being very knowledgeable about the label and its artists.

As the year ended more internet mining resulted in what I thought was a great lead when I found something that linked his name with clubs in Barcelona but on opening it up I discovered that this was actually about another Hammond organist, Lou Bennett. I was disappointed.

Here’s a bit more of FR: Tenderly from Soul Book, courtesy of SuperXavier30 on YouTube

To play the clip touch or click on the arrow.

There was nothing new to report here until last week when a search on Freddy Roach (sic) + Paris unearthed a link to The American Centre for Students and Artists, Paris. This was a Foundation located on the Boulevard Raspail, Montparnasse, which promoted Franco-American cultural exchange hosting language courses and music and theatre performances. Although it was initially set up in 1931 by the American Episcopalian congregation in Paris to keep young visitors away from ‘the evil influences of the Parisian Cafes’s’ by the late 60’s it had become a centre for the avant-garde. By the early 70’s there is declassified documentary evidence that the CIA were keeping a close watch on members of the Black Panthers who were meeting there.

On 25 May 1974 there was a performance of ‘Africa Is Calling Me: A Modern Day Black Opera’. This was composed by Bob Reid and featured a vocal recitation from one Freddy Roach, who has to be our man. The performance was recorded and was later issued on Kwela Records in 1975. I haven’t got a copy…yet!

The eagle-eyed will note that the FR YouTube link contains a comment from Steven McCormack which says that he rented an apartment from FR in Newark, New Jersey from 1971-72 and that one of FR’s sons lived next door to him during this period and that he worked with his other son. He says that he knew that FR played well as he would sometimes hear him playing.

A further bit of digging informed me about a publicly funded feature-length documentary about the Hammond Organ entitled Killer B3. There’s a not to be missed link here.

To play the clip touch or click on the arrow.

It looks like a must-see film and I hope we get the opportunity of a screening here in London very soon. The film website is at:

http://www.killerb3.com

So if you know any more about FR, please let us know. My research will continue.

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2 thoughts on “New information about Freddie Roach

  1. Nice detective work. I just read that wikipedia entry today, felt the same dissatisfaction, and googled my way to your blog in search of answers. I will definitely explore your other posts, as I am a huge jazz-and-soul-head, myself. Keep us posted on further developments in your search! (Although I have to marvel--recording several popular albums, then actually disappearing without a trace is a feat unimaginable in today's information age.)

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    1. Thanks for your comment. There are a couple of lines of enquiry that I am following. I still haven't got any more on the theatre and film aspect of Freddie Roach's life

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