The Roosters were co-founded by Billy Joe Clements (the Grass Heat, Diesel Billy) and Rolle Love, from local rockabilly band the Rockin’ Roulettes and (later) the Beat Farmers.
Clements, who moved to North Park a few years ago, is originally from Tennessee. Before San Diego he and his wife lived in Los Angeles where they both went to school. Clements produced television show theme music and wrote jingles to pay the bills. He remembers a producer once asking him to make a jingle sound like Monday Night Football meets ‘Welcome to the Jungle.’ “I started with horns, and then I added a Les Paul sound, like Slash would play.” When that line of work got slow due to the economy, he and his wife moved south.
The Grass Heat is a ‘70s power rock trio with bassist Chris Torres (who sings and cowrites vocals and drummer Mike Stone), and the Roosters are a country rock quartet.
“I’d been trying to do the Roosters since I got down here,” Clements says. “I had ten originals and a demo recorded, and I put a band together but then the Grass Heat took off.”
The Roosters were temporarily sidelined, which gave him time to reconsider the name. “I found out that every city in the U.S. has a band called the Roosters, so I changed it by putting my name first.” The band is now Billy Joe & the Roosters.
With Rolle Love on bass (also an ex-Beat Farmer), pedal steel guitarist Kevin Ryan, and Bill Coomes on drums, Billy Joe & the Roosters finally booked a debut gig at the Riviera on a Wednesday night in summer.
“We came in, unloaded our gear, played our ten songs, and were done in an hour. That’s all we had,” he says, a one-hour set, which didn’t go over well with club management. Clements says they eventually learned enough material to flesh out a 90-minute set and with the help of yet another ex-Beat Farmer named Joey Harris, they landed another gig. Thus began a residency at the Riviera, playing every other Friday night.
A live CD was recorded at the Riviera on December 10, 2010.
Clements, who teaches guitar and produces bands on the side says “I hope to keep writing music,” says Clements, “that people will come out and dance to.”