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“Howard really blurred the lines among guitar players, and reached so many of them,” Ted Greene said in 2003. “Jazz guys, country players, and rockers all loved him because he played with such feeling and authenticity. Those first two Capitol albums were no doubt an introduction to jazz guitar for hundreds – maybe thousands – of young players. He didn’t water anything down, but it was all still accessible. And he had a recognizable sound. You immediately knew it was Howard.”

Mitch Holder (VG, January ’96/April ’97), a veteran of thousands of sessions, was Roberts’ most notable protege. In fact, he literally wrote the book on Roberts, The Jazz Guitar Stylings of Howard Roberts.

“The record company chose the tunes from the pop charts and Broadway,” said Holder. “I know when he got ‘Winchester Cathedral.’ He was thinking, ‘What am I gonna do with this piece of crap?’ But he worked it up to have an old-timey banjo sound, and it became a masterpiece.” It, and several other meticulous H.R. transcriptions, are included in Holder’s book.

Hollywood studio guitar doyen Bob Bain laughed, “Howard would pull all-nighters before those sessions. He’d stay up arranging, then go straight to the studio to record. Jack [Marshall] and Howard would come to my place and stay up writing charts and arrangements for the next day’s session. Even if I wasn’t there, my wife, Judy, would give them the run of the place. Sometimes, I’d be on the date with them the next day… though I had enough sense to get some sleep!”

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