Born Eric Gakkroger in Halifax U.K. on September 25th 1921, composer Eric Rogers was destined to become a name that was synonymous with one of British cinemas most successful comedy series. Rogers became interested in music from an early age, and began to become involved with music at the age of thirteen when he was given lessons in playing the organ at his church. He never actually received any formal musical instruction but was a self taught musician and gained experience as a musician playing piano for free beer during the second world war. When the war finished Rogers formed his own orchestra which was given a residency at the Orchid Rooms at London’s Trocedero, he gained a reputation during the early 1950,s for being a talented arranger and also conductor for musical variety theatre in London’s west end. He began to work on films during the late 1950,s at first scoring children’s movies but then working on British releases such as the war drama THE WOODEN HORSE and the comedy GENEVIEVE.
In the early 1960’s he collaborated with Lionel Bart on the original stage version of the musical OLIVER this was because Bart never actually had any knowledge of writing or reading music, Rogers was responsible for converting Bart’s ideas into musical notes and acting as arranger and orchestrator on the production which premiered on June 30th 1960. At the same time Roger’s began to work with composer Bruce Montgomery, again carrying out orchestrations and arrangements. In 1962, Rogers acted as musical director on the score for Dr. No, working with composer Monty Norman on the first James Bond movie. Composer Bruce Montgomery was involved the CARRY ON films, which at that time were new to cinema audiences. CARRY ON executive Peter Rogers was not happy with Montgomery, the composer found it difficult to deliver his music on time and relied upon Eric Rogers to complete the assignments, so Peter Rogers decided to ask Eric to work on CARRY ON CABBY in 1963.
This first foray into CARRY ON comedy led to the composer scoring a further 21 films in the series, CAMPING, SCREAMING, MATRON, COWBOY and UP THE KHYBER being his most prominent and popular, the composers final encounter with the franchise came in 1978 when he provided the score for CARRY ON EMMANUELE. In 1975, the composer re-located to America, this was because he was receiving numerous requests from the United States to work on television series and films there. He became involved with De Patie Freleng who were responsible for producing a number of shorts and animated series that were popular at the time. These included, RETURN TO THE PLANET OF THE APES, WHATS NEW MR. MAGOO and SPIDER WOMAN. He also worked as musical director and arranger on a number of animated shows that the company produced including THE PINK PANTHER SHOW and conducted Dean Elliot’s music for THE NEW FANTASTIC FOUR in 1978.
Peter Rogers and Eric Rogers were not related as many thought, but they did however have a great working relationship and long term friendship. The filmmaker often collaborating with the composer in the actual writing of the music giving him ideas etc as to what he thought would best suit the movies. The music that Rogers provided was at times very tongue in cheek for example in CARRY ON SCREAMING, he worked in a version of the Z CARS theme when the detectives played by Harry H Corbett and Peter Butterworth were seen in there automobile. He also added a touch of pathos in the form of the STEPTOE AND SON theme in CARRY ON DOCTOR when Wilfred Brambles made an appearance. Rogers was also responsible for writing the ever so familiar SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE LONDON PALADIUM theme and scoring and acting as musical director on movies such as, BLESS THIS HOUSE, NO SEX PLEASE WE’RE BRITISH, ALL COPPERS ARE, INN OF THE FRIGHTENED PEOPLE and THE BEST HOUSE IN LONDON amongst others. Rogers died on April 8th 1981 aged 59 in Buckinghamshire.