Howard Roberts, 62, Guitarist Recognized For His Television Work

Howard Roberts, the virtuoso session guitarist whose credits include the eerie opening notes of "The Twilight Zone" theme, the "Gilligan's Island" theme and hundreds of studio recordings, has died of prostate cancer. He was 62.

Mr. Roberts, most recently a resident of Edmonds, died June 26 in a Seattle hospital.

Born Oct. 2, 1929 in Phoenix, he moved to Los Angeles in 1950. Primarily self-taught, he studied with trumpeter Shorty Rogers and appeared with Buddy De Franco, Paul Horn and Bud Shank.

He also performed as a backup musician for such vocalists as Ray Charles, Sonny and Cher and Ella Fitzgerald.

His guitar has underscored soundtracks from popular television shows also included "I Love Lucy," and "Get Smart."

He was heard on the sound tracks of TV shows, including "Gilligan's Island," "The Flintstones," "The Brady Bunch" and "The Addams Family," and movies, among them "West Side Story," "Dirty Harry" and "How the West Was One."

Among his musical credits on the big screen were "Camelot" and "West Side Story."

A sought-after studio musician who worked in various styles, he played on recordings with Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys, Sonny and Cher, the Jackson 5 and the Monkees, among many others.

He recorded jazz albums for many labels, such as MGM, Verve, ABC, Capitol and Concord. Mr. Roberts once told a jazz critic that from 1966 to 1976, he played on 2,000 albums.

He was active in guitar education, as a teacher and text-book writer. In 1977 he founded the Guitar Institute of Technology in Hollywood. It later became the Musicians Institute, and continues to train vocalists, guitarists, bass players and other aspiring musicians.

After moving to the Northwest in the 1980s, Mr. Roberts played nightclubs and festivals, such as Jazz Port Townsend, and continued to teach and lead guitar seminars.

He is survived by his mother, Vesta Roberts, wife Patty, daughter Madelyn and sons Douglas, Jay, Christopher and Michael. No service is planned.

In his memory, contributions may be made to the Howard Roberts Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 1025, Edmonds, WA 98020.