OM-45 Deluxe Edition Pays Tribute To “King Of The Cowboys” Roy Rogers
Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 20 - Jan. 2006
OM-45 Roy Rogers
OM-45B Roy Rogers
Singer. Musical innovator. Movie star. Television pioneer. Roy Rogers was an American original whose talent and honesty shined in a career that spanned more than 60 years, and his legacy continues to shine today, eight years after his passing.
For most of his fabled career, Roy Rogers played a very special Martin guitar. Roy’s 1930 OM-45 Deluxe – one of only 14 made – featured a unique floral inlay on the pickguard. Roy cherished this guitar throughout his life. Today it is a featured exhibit at the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum in Branson, Missouri.
To commemorate the legacy of Roy Rogers, the most popular and enduring of all the cowboy stars, C. F. Martin & Co. introduces the OM-45 Roy Rogers Limited Edition guitar. This spectacular guitar recreates Roy's own OM-45 Deluxe and will be available in two versions: one with back, sides and headplate of rare pre-CITES Brazilian rosewood, of which 14 will be built to match the number of original OM-45 Deluxes Martin produced in 1930, and a second with back, sides and headplate of East Indian rosewood, limited to 84 instruments. The edition total of 98 guitars memorializes 1998, the year of Roy's passing.
Born Leonard Slye, Roy Rogers was raised in rural Ohio where he played mandolin and called square dances at local gatherings. In 1930, he moved to California, working jobs as varied as highway construction and peach picking to pay the bills. He learned to accompany himself on guitar and in 1931 appeared on “Midnight Frolic,” a radio show featuring amateur talent broadcast on KMCS in Inglewood.
Roy’s radio appearance netted him a place in the Rocky Mountaineers, the first of several groups with which he sang and played during the next two years. In late 1933, he joined forces with Bob Nolan and Tim Spencer to found the Sons of the Pioneers. The group’s solid harmonies, fine original material (including “Cool Water” and “Tumbling Tumbleweeds”) and – with the addition of brothers Hugh and Karl Farr – impressive instrumental chops made it a seminal force in popularizing Western Swing. By 1936, the Sons of the Pioneers were featured on radio shows distributed throughout the United States, were recording for Decca and OKeh, and were appearing in western movies.
In 1937, Roy Rogers auditioned for Republic Pictures as a possible replacement for singing cowboy Gene Autry and was signed to a movie contract. The next year he played the lead role in “Under Western Stars.” The film was a hit and Roy Rogers suddenly was a movie star.
Over the next 14 years, Roy became the “King of the Cowboys,” appearing in more than 80 westerns as well as keeping a packed schedule of radio, concert (with the Sons of the Pioneers) and personal appearances. After his first wife Arlene died in 1946, leaving him with three small children, Roy fell in love with Dale Evans, his co-star in several pictures. The two were married in late 1947. Roy and Dale expanded the family with children of their own and went on to celebrate their 50th anniversary.
After co-starring with Bob Hope in “Son of Paleface,” Roy tackled a new medium: television. The Roy Rogers Show premiered on NBC in 1951 and remained a Sunday night favorite for six years. Dale Evans co-starred in the show and also wrote its theme song, “Happy Trails.”
In his later years, Roy devoted himself to business, investing in real estate and establishing a chain of Roy Rogers Restaurants in the 1980s. He also founded the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum near his home in Apple Valley (precursor to the current museum in Missouri) to showcase a lifetime of show business keepsakes and often greeted visitors personally. He was the first person to be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame twice, first in 1980 as an original member of the Sons of the Pioneers and again in 1988 in recognition for his own contributions to country music.
The OM-45B Roy Rogers Brazilian and OM-45 Roy Rogers Limited Editions feature impressive Martin Golden Era® specifications throughout; only the variety of rosewood differentiates the two. The top is crafted with rare premium quality Adirondack spruce and supported by 1/4" scalloped Adirondack spruce braces. The long scale, 1-3/4" (at the nut) genuine mahogany neck showcases the Golden Era® modified-V neck profile, solid square tapered headstock and elongated diamond volute. A black African ebony fingerboard and matching 1936 style black African ebony bridge add to the classic vintage character.
Style 45 abalone pearl accents border the top, back and sides. The top and rosette abalone inlays are flanked by traditional black and white dyed holly wood line inlays; the back and sides inlay are flanked by wood fiber line inlays. Top, back, sides, headstock and fingerboard are bound with grained ivoroid, with the latter two also inset with mitered wood fiber inlays. Grained ivoroid is also utilized for the heelcap and endpiece. Additional vintage touches include Old Style 45 multicolored mosaic back strip, linen side reinforcement strips, fossilized ivory nut and through saddle and Old Style fossilized ivory bridge pins and endpin topped with 4mm black pearl dots.
The beveled and polished tortoise-color teardrop pickguard bears a recreation of the floral abalone inlay unique to Roy Rogers’ original OM-45 Deluxe. Also true to original OM-45 specifications, the bridge wings boast snowflake inlays and the headstock features the classic antique Martin torch inlay. The Golden Era® Style 45 snowflake pattern graces the fingerboard, with Roy Rogers’ signature inlaid between the 19th and 20th frets. Gold Waverly tuners with butterbean knobs, subtle amber shading on the top and polished gloss finish throughout complete the OM-45 Roy Rogers Limited Edition’s vintage look. Although this guitar is not available with electronics, left-handed instruments may be ordered with no additional charge.
Protected by a heavy-duty Geib-style hardshell case, each OM-45B Roy Rogers Brazilian Limited Edition and OM-45 Roy Rogers Limited Edition guitar bears a special “sheriff’s star” interior label personally signed by Roy Rogers’ son, Roy “Dusty” Rogers, Jr., and Martin Chairman, C. F. Martin IV. Each label will be numbered in sequence with the total of that version of the Limited Edition. After orders are taken for the entire edition, Martin will post the names of participating Martin dealers on this website.