Popular Bowling Green Guitarist Dies at 56

Jul 22, 2014

Joe Roberts
Credit Orchestra Kentucky

Joe Roberts, a Bowling Green native who played guitar for more than a decade as a part of Orchestra Kentucky shows, died Monday of an apparent heart attack.  He was 56 years old. 

Roberts was a member of the group The Rewinders. He was a self-taught guitar player who received acclaim for his solos.

“Well he really loves music and you could see that in his playing,” said Orchestra Kentucky music director Jeff Reed. “When he played solos, it was definitely from the heart and it exhibited his love for the music he was playing.”

Roberts’ death came just days before Orchestra Kentucky’s scheduled “Beatlemadness” concert in Bowling Green. Reed says the song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” won’t be the same without Roberts’ guitar solo.

“That song has become associated with Joe as he would play the Eric Clapton solo.  You know, Eric Clapton played the original guitar solo,” said Reed.  “He never failed to get a standing ovation whenever we played it in the many places we played around the United States.”

Reed also conducts orchestras in South Carolina and Alabama where he is often accompanied by The Rewinders.

Over the last three decades, Roberts also played with The Michael Gough Group, Dick's Hatband, Mudbone, Jonesville, Cootie Brown and The Circuit Breakers.

Roberts played college baseball at the University of Louisville and was drafted in the 10th round of the 1980 major league draft by the Texas Rangers. He played briefly in the Rangers’ minor league system.