One can say that Rollie Ligart is "the" Original Rhondel, having joined Bill and Ammon just months after the Rhondels first formed in high school. Rollie has been with the band at all its major home venues; Knights Club/Community Center, Top Hat, Peppermint, Rogues Gallery and Steppin Out. He began playing trumpet at age 11 and played his first professional engagement that year. At 13 he auditioned and was selected as a member of the Virginia Symphony, becoming its youngest brass player ever. Throughout high school he juggled a busy schedule of playing with the Rhondels, the Symphony, and personal appearances as he accumulated many awards and honors. By the time Rollie had graduated from high school, his reputation had spread to such an extent that he was offered full scholarships to attend the Universities of Michigan, Colorado, East Carolina, William and Mary, and Yale.

Rollie reluctantly left the Rhondels to attend college. During his freshman year, he won Downbeat Magazine's Hall Of Fame scholarship to attend Berklee School Of Music and Boston Conservatory on full scholarship. While in Boston he traveled to NY City to play musicals, was a member of the Brookline Symphony, and helped establish the stageband program at Harvard University. He left Boston to tour with the Si Zentner Orchestra as its lead trumpeter.

Rollie returned to the Rhondels in 1966 and that return ushered in the renowned "big horn sound" of the Rhondels. Rollie convinced Bill to hire two additional horns (Ken Dawson and Ken Copeland) so that parts could be arranged and played in a higher and fuller manner than ever before. This impact was "jawdropping" to audiences, as well as other bands throughout the eastern US and separated Bill Deal and the Rhondels from the other horn bands by a wide margin. That impact can be heard in his horn arrangement to May I, the group's first hit. He also arranged and co-wrote the "B" side with Bill Deal. After the success of May I, Rollie left the group but returned shortly to write the band's arrangements for its Azealia Ball engagement. At that time, along with Gary Hardy and Ron Rosenbaum, the Rhondels had a horn section that rivaled those of Chicago or Blood,Sweat and Tears.

Rollie finally left the band to move his career in a different direction. That included "on call" trumpeter with Disney On Parade National Tours, The Ice Capades, Ringling Brothers Circus, writer-arranger for MGM records, and artist development for a national production company. He has recorded for or appeared in concert with such pop artists as The Beach Boys, Cher, Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Drifters, Buddy Miles, Englebert Humperdink and Phil Collins, as well as jazz greats Mel Torme, Stan Kenton, Keith Jarrett, Herb Pomeroy, Sadeo Watenabe and Chuck Mangione.

Rollie began his fourth stint with the Original Rhondels a year ago and is excited to be back with old friends. Along with his "good bud" Gary Hardy, he hopes to continue the band's legacy and bring back the "big horn" sound that the helped make the Original Rhondels famous.

Rollie resides in Poquoson with his wonderfully understanding wife, Cindy, and their children. He owns his own investment brokerage firm and teaches an occasional aspiring trumpet student.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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