Saturday, Jun 06, 2015
January 06, 1949 - May 25, 2015
Roger Garland Riggins was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Lionel Riggins and Flora Perry Riggins on January 6, 1949, the second of their two children.
He attended Germantown High School and graduated from the Downingtown Industrial
and Agricultural School in Downingtown, Pennsylvania where he became enthusiastic about the arts. Following graduation from high school, Roger attended Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina.
He established a reputation and a following as a jazz critic, writer of record reviews and interviewer of musicians for many local and national publications, among them “Down Beat.” He was a founder of “The Grackle: Improvised Music in Transition.” It was one of the few Black publications dedicated to jazz scholarship and analysis. When musician and composer Bill Dixon established the Black Music Division at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont, Roger went to Bennington to be on the music scene there.
Roger also liked reading and commenting on the works of philosophers and thinkers. He was so enthusiastic about ideas that for a time he self-published in Philadelphia “Hat and Bread: New Directions in Philosophical Thinking” in which he interpreted for readers certain universal concepts such as electromagnetic fields. Even in his later years, as he had done all his adult life, he embraced fresh, innovative ideas. He immersed himself in these ideas regardless of the race, ethnicity, religion, gender, class or sexual orientation of the ones who put them forth.
Besides reading and listening to jazz—which he preferred to call Black classical music——Roger liked to listen to the music of composers he viewed as people with unconventional ideas. These composers included, but were not limited to, John Cage, Milton Babbitt, Arnold Schoenberg and Gustav Mahler. He also listened to the music of a younger generation of like musicians, and he always strived to be on top of new developments whether they were of an artistic, scientific or political nature.
During his lifetime, besides Philadelphia, he lived in several U.S. cities large and small.
And he soaked up the culture of each city. He delighted in reading the Sunday edition of
“The New York Times,” especially the arts section.
Roger made a lasting impression on almost everyone he met. In addition to those people, he leaves to remember him a host of cousins and his sister Linda, who will remember his never-ending curiosity and cherish the memory of the humor and chattiness he had for so many years.