I was born on September 2nd, 1940 in Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia. After seeing a few western movies I became a fan of the guitar right away and dreamed of playing one before I was 10 years old.
Around 1952 my parents let me sign up for guitar lessons and I along with about 150 other kids arrived at a large hall after school one day and they started passing around Stella Guitars to everyone. However when my turn came they passed me a flat metal bar along with the guitar. That’s not what I had in mind at all. I wanted to play with the fingers like I saw in the movies. Being too shy to express my true desire I decided to go with the steel bar for a few weeks and see what happened. I still have that flat steel bar.
In December of 1953 my parents got me an electric lap steel and small amp from Sears catalogue and that along with a lap Richenbacker which I got at a second hand shop a few years later comprised my equipment list until 1960. I played in school, at parties, on the radio and could play with any local country band I wanted to because of the unique sound the guitar offered.
Having joined the Bank after graduating from high school I was transferred to Antigonish, N.S. and very soon after bought a Fender 400–. My introduction to pedals. I married soon after and then transferred to Hamilton, Ont. I remember meeting people like Ollie Strong, Al Gain and a few others who were using Sho-Buds at that time.
At this point I made a decision to leave the Bank, move back to Nova Scotia and raise our family there. I started a new career in municipal administration and continued to play the local scene with a number of bands. I got a Sho-Bud in 1969 and two years later recorded a number of LP’s with the Fogarty’s in 1972. On one album I played an instrumental R.T. Fever, an original which brought me about $1,000 in royalty payments .The reports that accompanied the payments indicated that a radio station in England used my instrumental for theme music on a country music program.
Sometime later I appeared on” Countrytime” with a group called “Big Buffalo”. This program was a CBC production and aired quite a few years. Len MacDonald was the regular steelman for the show.
Raising a family and working as Town Administrator in Wolfville since 1971 required a great deal of my time but I played steel with local groups throughout the years almost every weekend. I visited Nashville twice and met Lloyd Green and Curly Chaulker back in the 70’s. Also Shot Jackson who inspired me to start playing the dobro when I first heard him with Johnny and Jack back in the 50’s. The highlight however was jamming with Mr. Emmons at Cosmo Music in 1985. As well as steel, I also play dobro and some classical guitar. For six years along with everything else in the 1970’s. Early 1980’s I played bagpipes but that is history.
Today I am retired and a director with the Atlantic Steel Guitar Club. I play a Carter D10 and keep my sound very simple and as pure as possible . I have been using a Nashville 400 amp since 1985. Along with trying to keep up with “to-day’s” country sounds I like to experiment with fingerstyle music and some classical. I am presently testing some changes on an” E” diatonic tuning and use an acoustic steel that I built for this purpose.
Besides being a Director of the ASGC I have a little business called Roy’s Steel Guitar Centre and specialize in personalized instruction.
Email Roy: roy.thomson(at)ns.sympatico.ca