Gamble Rogers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Gamble Rogers
Gamble Rogers performing at the Florida Folk Festival White Springs, Florida.jpg
Gamble Rogers performing at the Florida Folk Festival, White Springs, Florida
Background information
Birth nameJames Gamble Rogers IV
Born(1937-01-31)January 31, 1937
Winter Park, Florida, U.S.
DiedOctober 10, 1991(1991-10-10) (aged 54)
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, author, artist, actor, screenwriter
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active1961–1991
LabelsOklawaha Records, Flying Fish Records, Inc, Mountain Railroad Records, Inc

James Gamble Rogers IV (January 31, 1937 – October 10, 1991) was a folk artist musician and storyteller known for the recurring theme in his songs and stories about characters and places in a fictional Florida county. He died a heroic death and was honored by his native state. He was a 1998 inductee into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.[1]


Born in Winter Park, Florida, Rogers was the namesake of two prominent architects in the family – his father James Gamble Rogers II and great-uncle James Gamble Rogers. As a young man, he chose to become a musician—while on his way to interview for a job at an architecture firm, he attended a Serendipity Singers audition in New York,[2] borrowed a guitar, tried out, and was admitted to the group.

Gamble Rogers began performing around Florida in the 1960s, often performing with other noted Florida singer-songwriters Paul Champion, Jim Bellew, and Will McLean. By the 1970s, he was a regular fixture at the Florida Folk Festival, often as the headliner. He appeared in James Szalapski's 1976 country music documentary film Heartworn Highways, performing an onstage comic monologue followed by "Black Label Blues." By the 1980s, he was often featured on public television and public radio. As a self-described "modern troubadour," Rogers influenced musicians such as Jimmy Buffett and David Bromberg, with the former dedicating his album Fruitcakes to him. In their tribute to him, "Song for Gamble," Steve Gillette and his wife Cindy Mangsen describe him: "He had the gift of innocence, and a fondness for the key of 'E'."

While Rogers was camping at Flagler Beach, a frightened young girl ran to him, begging him to help her father, who was in trouble in rough surf. Compromised by spinal arthritis that had been worsening since childhood, Rogers nevertheless grabbed an air mattress and headed into the ocean in a rescue attempt. Both men died in the surf. In honor of his heroism, the Florida Legislature renamed the state park Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area at Flagler Beach. In St. Augustine, Florida, there is a middle school, Gamble Rogers Middle School, named after him.[3]

Songs and stories[edit]

The characters and places in the fictional Oklawaha County, Florida are a recurring theme in Rogers' songs and stories, although his earlier works referenced characters of the same names residing in non-fictional Winter Park, Florida and Habersham County, Georgia.

Through years of onstage apprenticeship, Rogers refined and polished his one-man show into a single story line – a continuum he entitled, Oklawaha County Laissez-Faire.

Oklawaha Records[edit]

During the years since Rogers' death, his agent and business manager, Charles Steadham, acquired the intellectual property rights to Rogers' work and founded Oklawaha Records in Gainesville, Florida to present this material. Steadham has remastered and re-released most of Rogers' songs and stories, making them available through the website of the not-for-profit Gamble Rogers Memorial Foundation, Inc.[4]

Catalog Number Album/CD Year Originally published by Original Year
OK1001 The Lord Gives Me Grace And the Devil Gives Me Style 1996 Mountain Railroad Records, Inc 1977
OK1002 Gamble Rogers Live: The Warm Way Home 1996 Mountain Railroad Records, Inc 1980
OK1003 Sorry Is As Sorry Does 2001 Flying Fish Records 1986
OK1004 Oklawaha County Laissez-Faire 1996 Oklawaha Records 1996
OK1005 Signs of a Misspent Youth 1999 Oklawaha Records 1999
OK1006 Good Causes 2003 Oklawaha Records 2003


Gamble Rogers was posthumously awarded the Kiwanis Award for bravery, the Carnegie Award for heroism, induction into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame[5] and the NSA Lifetime Achievement Award (2001).


  1. ^ Gamble Rogers Florida Artists Hall of Fame
  2. ^ The Oracle of Oklawaha: Gamble Rogers, Southern gentlemen, Fretboard Journal, Fall 2006
  3. ^ "Gamble Rogers Middle School -".
  4. ^
  5. ^ Florida Folk Heritage Award

External links[edit]