Steel Trappings

On the Playlist

David "Feet" Rogers

August 1, 2021 • Geronimo "Geri" ValdrizSteel Guitar History

"HAWAIIAN STEEL" is a weekly radio program that spotlights the Hawaiian steel guitar masters from the past to the present. "ON THE PLAYLIST" features the musicians heard on the program's playlist. This month we profile David "Feet" Rogers!

To many fans of the steel guitar, David "Feet" Rogers epitomizes Hawaiian grass roots music. He was the heart and soul of the Sons of Hawai‘i, Hawai‘i's premier folk music band.

David "Feet" Rogers

Feet was born in 1935 and grew up at Kalihi, O‘ahu. He comes from a family of steel guitarists. His uncle Benny Rogers is the long time steel guitarists for 49th State Records and for vocalist Genoa Keawe. His father George Rogers is also a long time and well known steel guitarist. The Rogers family played the "E Major" tuning which was slacked down a whole step by Feet.

Feet's steel guitar style was simple and beautiful. His bell-like harmonics and sparse comping is the antithesis to players with big chords and multi-necked tunings. And his right handed "Clunking" technique added another texture to his unique sound. He played in a rustic, folk style as opposed to a swing or jazz-influenced player.

Because his style is sparse and minimalist and doesn't reflect huge technique or chordal knowledge, it's easy to discount him. But if you listen carefully, you will find that he is a player of consummate artistry who knows what he wanted to communicate.

The pureness of his bell like harmonics and the piercing notes of his single note melody display a different kind of mastery. Feet knew when not to play. His timing, his Hawaiian "feel" and pure emotion is unmatched.

Feet was a merchant marine and spent many months away at sea. When he returned to shore he played with the Sons of Hawai‘i as if he had never left. In the studio Feet recorded songs in only one take. And that was after hearing only a taste of the song, just to get the general idea. He played "in the moment" and relied on his natural instincts as a musician.

On October 7, 1983, Feet passed away at age 48. He was an original member of the Sons of Hawai‘i and played with Eddie Kamae, Joe Marshall, Gabby Pahinui, Dennis Kamakahi, and Moe Keale.

During his lifetime Feet was known for playing a Rickenbacher B6 Bakelite Panda steel guitar, in the D Major tuning.

David "Feet" Rogers

Today fans of the Sons of Hawai‘i seek out the recordings of Feet Rogers. He continues to inspire steel guitarists seeking to emulate his simple, soulful, Hawaiian style. His music is now available online and on CD to a new generation of steel guitar fans who can appreciate this innovative and unique Hawaiian musician!

On the Playlist of Hawaiian Steel: "Feet" Rogers

Song CD Album
Kanaka Wai Wai The Folk Music of Hawaii - Sons of Hawaii* / Panini
Ka Wai O Namolokama Slack Key and Steel Guitar, Vol. 1 - The Maile Serenaders / Hula
Ua Noho Au A Kupa This is Eddie Kamae - Eddie Kamae and the Sons of Hawaii* / Hula
Hualalai Eddie Kamae & Friends - Eddie Kamae / Hawaii Sons
He‘eia Slack Key and Steel Guitar, Vol. 1 - The Maile Serenaders / Hula
La Elima Eddie Kamae & Friends - Eddie Kamae / Hawaii Sons

* Out of print but may be available on auction sites or streaming services.

"Hawaiian Steel" with Geri Valdriz is broadcast live every Tuesday from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm (HST) on Mana‘o Radio, Wailuku, Maui, Hawai‘i, KMNO, 91.7FM.

You can catch it on the air, or streaming live at www.manaoradio.com. Listeners can also access the online archives to enjoy previously recorded programs at your convenience. Just search "Listen on Demand" for past shows.

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