My Musical Roots: The Rooftop Singers

I think this group had only one big hit, Walk Right In, but I played the heck out that 45. Both sides (the B side was Cool Water). It was, of course that pairing of two beefy 12-string guitars that made the record so popular in early 1963, and it was what began my lifelong love affair with folk music. I'd always wanted to be a beatnik anyway, and the folk music scene was just an extension of all that, with candles in wine bottles, Cubism on the walls, the poetry of Ginsberg and Kerouac, and the obligatory existential, black turtleneck...

It was about that time that I borrowed a guitar from a kid at our church and began trying to play it. I was 12, and since I didn't know about chords, I picked out melodies and played a slide style using a butter knife. I don't know how I knew to do that. I taught myself a few things and then I had to give the guitar back. It would be another two years before I finally got my own.

I didn't know about 12-strings either, until The Beatles and The Byrds made them popular in 1965. I bought my first one in 1968 with money I'd saved from my first job stringing and tuning guitars at a local music store. That's how I met Deni. By then I was a full-fledged folkie, playing Dylan and Donovan, and anyone else whose LPs I could get my hands on, the acoustic 12-string guitar quickly becoming my signature instrument. And all because of the Rooftop Singers.

MAIN INFLUENCES: The 12-string acoustic guitar, not being afraid to be a little heavy on the bottom strings, the power of folk music.

P.S. Sorry, this is the only decent video I could find of this song.