Freddie Roulette


Freddie Roulette, noted blues lap-steel guitarist and singer, died at his home in Vallejo, California, on December 24. He was 83.

Roulette was born and raised in suburban Chicago and learned to play steel guitar in high school before gigging in clubs as a teen. In 1965, he joined Earl Hooker’s band, which included pianist Pinetop Perkins and harmonica player Carey Bell. After connecting with Charlie Musselwhite in 1969, Roulette played on The Chicago Blue Stars, then toured with Musselwhite and backed him again on Memphis, Tennessee and Tennessee Woman before moving to San Francisco. There, he played in a band with Luther Tucker and joined John Lee Hooker’s Coast to Coast Band.

In ’73, Roulette recorded his first solo album, Sweet Funky Steel, produced by guitarist Harvey Mandel. In the decades that followed, he worked as an apartment manager while playing locally with his own band, guesting with others, and recording eight more albums as band leader and guest. One of his groups, Daphne Blue, was formed to back 14-year-old slide guitarist Ray Bronner with other Chicago veterans including Perkins and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. Their work is best captured on the 2007 album, Daphne Blue: Legendary Blues Instrumentals.

Roulette’s final solo album, Jammin’ with Friends, was released in 2012.

This article originally appeared in VG’s April 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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