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Roy Ayers (born September 10, 1940) is an American funk, soul, and jazz composer and vibraphone player. Ayers began his career as a post-bop jazz artist, releasing several albums with Atlantic Records, before his tenure at Polydor Records beginning in the 1970s, during which he helped pioneer jazz-funk.
Ayers was born in Los Angeles, California, and grew up in a musical family. At the age of five, he was given his first pair of vibraphone mallets by Lionel Hampton. The area of Los Angeles that Ayers grew up in, now known as "South Central" but then known as "South Park", was the epicenter of the Southern California Black musicscene. The schools he attended (Wadsworth Elementary, Nevins Middle School, and Thomas Jefferson High School) were all close to the famed Central Avenue, Los Angeles' equivalent of Harlem's Lenox Avenue and Chicago's State Street. Roy would likely have been exposed to music as it not only emanated from the many nightclubs and bars in the area, but also poured out of many of the homes where the musicians who kept the scene alive lived in and around Central. His high school,Thomas Jefferson High School, produced some of the most talented new musicians, such as Dexter Gordon.
Ayers was responsible for the highly regarded soundtrack to Jack Hill's 1973 blaxploitation film Coffy, which starred Pam Grier. He later moved from a jazz-funk sound toR&B, as seen on Mystic Voyage, which featured the songs "Evolution" and the underground disco hit "Brother Green (The Disco King)", as well as the title track from his 1976 album Everybody Loves the Sunshine.
In 1977, Ayers produced an album by the group RAMP, Come Into Knowledge, commonly and mistakenly thought to stand for "Roy Ayers Music Project". That Fall, he had his biggest hit with "Running Away".
In late 1979, Ayers scored his only top ten single on Billboard's Hot Disco/Dance chart with "Don't Stop The Feeling," which was also the leadoff single from his 1980 album "No Stranger to Love", whose title track was sampled in Jill Scott's 2001 song "Watching Me" from her debut album Who Is Jill Scott?
Ayers performed a solo on the John "Jellybean" Benitez production of Whitney Houston "Love Will Save The Day" from her second multi-platinum studio album Whitney. The single was released in July 1988 by Arista Records.
In 1993, Ayers appeared on the record Guru's Jazzmatazz Vol.1 featuring on the vibraphone in the song "Take a Look (At Yourself)".
In 1994, Ayers appeared on the Red Hot Organization's compilation album Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool. The album, meant to raise awareness and funds in support of the AIDS epidemic in relation to the African-American community, was heralded as "Album of the Year" by Time Magazine.
Ayers started two record labels, Uno Melodic and Gold Mink Records. The first released several LPs, including Sylvia Striplin's, while the second folded after a few singles.
Currently, there is a documentary in progress called the Roy Ayers Project featuring Ayers and many hip hop producers who have sampled his music and other people who have been influenced by him and his music. The documentary is planned for release in early 2014.
- West Coast Vibes (United Artists) – 1963
- Virgo Vibes (Atlantic) – 1967
- Daddy Bug & Friends (Atlantic) – 1967
- Stoned Soul Picnic (32 Jazz) – 1968
- Daddy’s Back (Atco) – 1969
- He’s Coming (Polydor) – 1971
- Ubiquity (Polydor) – 1971
- Live At The Montreux Jazz Festival (Verve) – 1972
- Red, Black And Green (Polydor) – 1973
- Coffy (soundtrack) (Polydor) - 1973
- Virgo Red (Polydor) – 1973
- Change Up The Groove (Polydor) – 1974
- A Tear To A Smile (Polydor) – 1975
- Mystic Voyage (Polydor) – 1975
- Everybody Loves the Sunshine (Polydor) - 1976
- Vibrations (Polydor) – 1976, (GRP) - 2008
- Crystal Reflections (Muse) – 1977
- Lifeline (Polydor) – 1977
- Let's Do It (Polydor) – 1978
- Step Into Our Life (Polydor) – 1978
- You Send Me (Polydor) – 1978
- Fever (Polydor) – 1979
- Love Fantasy (Polydor) – 1980
- No Stranger To Love (Polydor) – 1980
- Prime Time (Polydor) – 1980
- Music Of Many Colors (With Fela Kuti) (Celluloid) – 1980
- Africa, Center Of The World (Polydor) – 1981
- Feelin’ Good (Polydor) – 1981
- In The Dark (Columbia) – 1984
- Goree Island – 1984
- In the Dark – 1984
- Poo PooLa La – 1984
- You Might Be Surprised (Columbia) – 1985
- I’m The One (For Your Love Tonight) (Columbia) – 1987
- Searchin’ (Live) (Ronnie Scott's Jazz House) – 1991
- Drive (Ichiban) – 1992
- Wake Up (Ichiban) – 1992
- Double Trouble (With Rick James) (Uno Melodic) – 1992
- Good Vibrations (Live) (Ronnie Scott's Jazz House) – 1993
- Fast Money (Live At Ronnie Scott’s) (Castle) – 1994
- Vibesman (Live At Ronnie Scott’s) (Music Club) – 1995
- Nasté (Groovetown) – 1995
- Hot (Live At Ronnie Scott’s) (Ronnie Scott's Jazz House) – 1996
- Spoken Word (AFI) – 1998
- Lots Of Love (Charly) – 1998
- Juice (Charly) – 1999
- Live At Ronnie Scott’s (DVD Audio) (Castle) – 2001
- "Our Time is Coming" (single with Masters at Work) (MAW Records)—2001
- For Café Après-midi (Universal Japan) – 2002
- "Good Vibrations" (single with Kerri Chandler) (Mad House Records)—2003
- Virgin Ubiquity: Unreleased Recordings 1976-1981 (Rapster) – 2004
- Mahogany Vibe (Rapster) – 2004
- Virgin Ubiquity II: Unreleased Recordings 1976-1981 (Rapster) – 2005
- Virgin Ubiquity Remixed (Rapster) – 2006
- Perfection (Aim) – 2006