While I was attending Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, NJ., I landed a part-time job in a local industrial area posted on the school bulletin board.The job consisted of taking dump truck loads of recycled U.S. Government ballpoint casings and shoveling them into a grinder. When they were ground up a few minutes later, I would shovel the stuff into another machine. During this time, the result would be a batch of Styrofoam packing peanuts, which I would then shovel into boxes. This was my job! To make matters worse, the place was a pit. It was a rundown factory with broken windows, no heat, and worst of all, when it rained, water drained in like a river. I remember working for a little while, thinking about 2 hours had past. When I looked at the clock, it had only been 15 minutes. This was the revelation for knowing I would not ever just be satisfied punching a time clock and doing unskilled manual labor. I quit halfway into my second day. When I got home, my Mom said, “there’s my little working boy”! I thought I was going to throw up. How did people do this type of thing day in and day out for most of their lives? It was necessary to think of something fast!
That same night, I went to my room, looked in the yellow pages, and started calling music stores looking for a job. I made a call to a music store called Leneve Music in Matawan, NJ. It was named after the two store owners, Len & Eve. Eve was the lady that hired me that night. Although, I had never taught guitar lessons before, I explained that I had been teaching for at least four years. I had apparently walked in not too long after Lenny had been killed in a car accident. They gave me a studio to teach in with the door still posting the handwritten sign depicting his name, “Mr. Baird”. As it was, the folks there didn’t have the heart to take his name down from the door, which to me was perfectly understandable. When my first student, a little girl named Nancy walked in, I knew I had to rise to the occasion. Since I had a strong background reading music, I knew now how I had to teach- the same way my teacher had taught me. If I just followed that procedure, I would be fine. I gradually worked into teaching students about 3 days per week. That was September of 1972, and I would teach there until the next spring.
In June of 1973. I packed my van with my guitars and record albums and headed south toward Atlanta to take a shot at making a life for myself. My old prep school roommate, Greg Millar, flew to New Jersey to meet me and to then head south to Atlanta, while on the way stopping in Washington, DC to see the Allman Brothers Band along with the Grateful Dead at RFK Stadium. We headed out on June 7. I had already been away from home for 5 years from age 14 to 18 under strict supervision, but now there was no one there to direct me. It was a very disconcerting feeling. I took a deep breath, stepped on the gas, and drove south on the New Jersey Turnpike. I was on my way but was basically venturing out on a tip from a friend. That friend had made a few phone calls looking for any possible music oriented job opportunities for me, and came across a gentleman named Sidney Ayscue. This gentleman owned and operated the Buckhead Music Studio in North Atlanta. Sidney and I talked several times on the phone and I made the decision to go to Atlanta and take a shot at this potential opportunity.
When I arrived back in Atlanta in June of 1973 at age 19, Sidney allowed me to move into a room in the studio by agreeing to try to expand, but realistically build a guitar teaching business. My only teaching experience was about 6 months at a little music store in Matawan, New Jersey, but my knowledge of the guitar and music was already that of 10 years. Sidney and I put our heads together and named the business venture the Atlantis Music Studio, which placed it in the “A” section of the Yellow Pages. He and I worked together for about a year before Sidney was starting to lose interest in teaching and was looking to change his life’s direction. One day in August of 1974 while sitting at my desk in my small studio, the phone company called inquiring on the overdue phone bill. When I explained to the gentleman on the phone the situation of lately not seeing my partner around for a few days, the writing on the wall was evident that I would have to make a change, and quickly. I was a year into teaching fulltime, and I was making a satisfactory living through giving guitar lessons, but I still needed the phone. Now I would have to open a new account, under a new name. The phone company guy stated that the Atlantis Music Studio account was now delinquent, so he asked me what name I would like to use. In having to make a split second decision thinking on my feet, I told the gentleman to open the account under the name of “The Roger Wilson Guitar Studio”. As he said that, the words seem to fall out like a 2 ton boulder. I wondered who in the world would ever take me seriously. The next day, I walked around the corner to the phone company and put down the $50.00 deposit, which seemed like a fortune at the time, on the new phone service. From that day on, the journey and legacy of The Roger Wilson Guitar Studio began .
The book, HURRICANE, can be purchased at http://HurricaneWilson.com