R.E. Some Early Mentors – A Little More History

Published On March 9, 2013 | By rick estrin | News

Rodger Collins Poster w/Rick Estrin as Coastin' Hank

Rodger Collins, aka Hajji Sabrie, is a singer-songwriter and a great all around entertainer. He could sing, dance, write, do impressions, do comedy, he could basically kinda do it all. He could sing Soul, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Blues, even Country, and somehow combined them all into his own unique style. He recorded for Galaxy Records in the 1960s and seventies. He made some real classic Soul records and had big hits with “She’s Lookin’ Good” and “Foxy Girls in Oakland” and those records are still super-popular in British dance clubs! His song “She’s Lookin’ Good” was covered by a lot of other artists … people like Wilson Pickett (who had a big hit with it), Tom Jones, and even Howlin’ Wolf did it! Just being able to hang around Rodger was the best showbiz education I could have gotten. He really took me to school. I mean it was nuts and bolts songwriting lessons, live performance tips, stuff to watch out for on the business end of things and stuff to watch out for in life in general.

As far as other role models go, you can’t forget Percy. Percy Mayfield was one of the greatest songwriters and singers that has ever lived! He was just a classy person too! A wise man…and you can tell it from his songs. His kind words and encouragement gave my self-confidence as a writer a real boost.

Travis Phillips/Wonderboy Travis did the original “Eyes Like A Cat”. Travis was just a hell of a musician…hell of a singer…great guitar player, plus, Travis was cool. I’ll always remember some of the little funny but true stuff he would say when the band was messin’ up or when they’d start complaining about one thing or another. He told the drummer one time, “hell, I don’t know what you’re bitchin’ about… that drum kit is kickin’ your ass nightly!” And then one time the bass player wanted a raise. I think he was making $15 dollars a night and he wanted $20. (Remember this is 1968). Travis told him, “Man, if you just want to know the truth, you ain’t playin’ but five dollars worth of bass!” Just the fact that he never said any shit like that to me really meant lot at the time!

Fillmore Slim? I love Fillmore, and don’t get it twisted, Fillmore can sing some Blues, but as a role model? Shit, I’m lucky I never got killed as it is! When I was young, I was too stupid to realize not everybody is cut out to be a pimp! Fillmore’s a good cat, but to survive in the life all those years, he had to be super slick, extra-shrewd, and extra-tough! I’m a survivor too…but not on that level!

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