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Roger Douglass is a founding member of the Elm Street Band which formed in the mid 1980’s. He fell in love with the guitar in 1964 after hearing Dick Dale’s Miserlou at a Friday night dance at Stanford Middle School. “It sounded like a rampagin’ chainsaw and really got my attention” reports Roger, who immediaely begged his parents to buy the $99 cherry red electric guitar for sale at Unimart in the Los Altos Shopping Center. Roger and friends Frank Marino, Marshall Parsons, Bob Robillard and Paul Vander Schalie started a band called The Leisuremen and were soon booked at local dances and parties. In 1965, The Leisuremen were astounded to have won a Battle of the Bands at Millikan High School Canteen. This was the start of a 45 year long musical career that included stints with Las Vegas headliners, a television summer series, recording sessions and forays into show and pop music, country & western and classic rock & roll.
elm street band
As a student at Millikan High School, Roger continued playing his guitar and singing with such bands as The Fourmost and The Town Criers. Highlights included gigs opening shows for the Strawberry Alarm Clock at Bob Robertson’s Marina Palace on PCH in Seal Beach and playing the Cinnamon Cinder at the traffic circle in Long Beach.
the band
Later, while attending CSULB Roger was asked to join X.S. Baggage, a Hollywood based show band which included Long Beachers David Silverstein, Jay Schlessinger and Bob McAlister. Between gigs at Isadore’s, L.A.’s Bitter End West and The Grand Hotel (across from Disneyland), agent Lou Alexander managed to book the band at the Hollywood Palladium opening for the Osmond Brothers (on Donnie’s 16th birthday!) and the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas alongside returning headliner Elvis Presley.

The X.S. Baggage show got the attention of singer Bobbie Gentry who had a number one hit record with Ode to Billie Joe in the 1960’s. Gentry needed singing musicians for her Las Vegas show at the Desert Inn, Frontier and Sands hotels, hiring Roger, McAlister and Silverstein as cast members. Gentry’s Ode to Billie Joe spawned a movie and summer television series in the mid 1970’s featuring Roger’s guitar and vocals with performers and guest artists including Wayne Newton, Paul Anka, Frankie Lane, Glen Campbell, Racquel Welch, Paul Williams, Bobbie Van, Larry Storch, John Byner, Fred Travelena, Jerry Van Dyke, Kelly Monteith, Robert Goulet, Rich Little, Ann Margaret, Cheech and Chong among others. The Gentry era ended in 1977 with Roger and singer guitarist Jason Reavis moving back to Long Beach to start a country & western band.

The duo inspired by Don Henley, Glenn Frey and Loggins & Messina became the nucleus of the successful G.R.I.T.S. band which dominated the local country music scene from 1978 through 1984. Accomplishments included house band gigs at JW’s Cowboy, The Crazy Horse Saloon and appearances in Las Vegas and Carson City. G.R.I.T.S. was rated the number one country music band in Southern California in 1983 by Music Connection Magazine’s Live Action Chart and was nominated for the Golden Eagle Award by the CA Country Music Association. Accolades were not enough however to keep this talented group of singers and musicians from disbanding in 1984. At this point Roger had had enough of the musician’s life, he married Candie Smith and found a “regular job”…but not for long.

A chance meeting with musician and former Stanford Middle School classmate Bob Hirschhorn resulted in some noisy beer fueled jams in Roger Peterson’s garage on Elm Avenue in downtown Long Beach. One night Peterson requested the group to play for a casual party in his house where a guest asked if “that band on Elm Street” was available for other gigs? Of course the answer was YES! The addition of Roland Misajon and John Navratil rounded out the group and Roger was once again singing and picking the guitar…this time with the Elm Street Band.

Today Roger keeps busy as a real estate appraiser and with wife Candie, raising 11 year old twins Sydney and Michael in their East Long Beach home. Roger says that “playing music in a band makes me feel 20 again!”…and that “they’ll have to pull this guitar from my cold hands.” It maybe Roger’s sense of humor that has allowed this remarkable 45 year, nearly non-stop history of musical performances. Roger concludes that “I plan to start slowing down after my 90th birthday!”