Basic Background Info

Birth: Unknown
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Band: Duke Ellington Orchestra
Genres: Jazz, R&B, Rock
Instruments: Drums
Occupation: Musician



Philadelphia native John Roberts graduated from an arts magnet school in 1991. A high school professor introduced John to Wynton Marsalis, who was assembling a band for the Duke Ellington Orchestra. John Roberts played in the rhythm section of the Orchestra with his jazz trio, Christian McBride and Joey DeFrancesco, and they traveled with about twenty other high school musicians.

John Roberts studied at Berklee College of Music, where he was really exposed to rock music on top of his jazz and R&B influences. Although he didn't play a great deal of rock, the exposure helped John Roberts become a better musician.

At the beginning of his professional career, John Roberts played with fellow Philly natives DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. They didn't plan to use live musicians in the studio until John Roberts showed them the emotion that a live performs brings to the recording.

John Roberts continued to advocate live drummers rather than laying down trakcs with drum machines; he said, "if you want to get the soul of a real drummer playing and bass player? It's about emotion. Drum machines don't have emotion; they're too mechanical. They're not going to do anything other than what you program them to do."

John Roberts has also performed with Janet Jackson, George Duke, Al Jarreau, Prince, Michael Jackson, Herbie Hancock, Rachelle Ferrell, George Benson, Nancy Wilson, Stevie Wonder, Jamie Foxx, Raphael Saadiq, Musiq Soulchild, Jill Scott, Bilal, Vivian Green, Mary J. Blige, Goodie Mob, Monica, EnVogue, Xscape, Jermaine Dupri, and Dallas Austin.

John Roberts's influences as an adult musician are younger performers. He said, "I really like hearing their ideas, because ñ you know how every five or ten years thereís a different groove. You have to be able to change up and be able to make people dance. The younger cats are more open to what's going on in the clubs and the music that's out now."

John Roberts hopes to expand his work as a producer in the future. Having worked with so many great producers as a musician, he learned how to make records and hopes to share that with the next generation.


Album Year Album Name Album Band
1993 Code Red DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
1993 Third Degree Burn Eric Essix & Modern Man
1994 Closer Still Brian Simpson
1995 Attitude Adjustment George Howard
1997 Dramatic Christmas: The Very Best Christmas The Dramatics
1997 Is Love Enough? George Duke
1997 Sweet Thing Boney James
1997 What's Going On Everette Harp
1998 Better Days Everette Harp
1998 Blue Note Salutes Motown Various Artists
1998 Clairvoyance Dan Siegel
1998 Perfect Moment Peter White
1998 Standing Together George Benson
1998 Still I Can't Be Still Idina Menzel
1998 Sweet Thing/It's All Good Boney James
1998 Tameless Savage Rose
1998 There's a Riot Goin' On George Howard
1999 Chill Factor Richard Elliot
2000 Best of Richard Elliot Richard Elliot
2000 Bob Baldwin
2000 Club 1600 Various Artists
2000 Dan on the Moon Dr. Dan
2000 George Benson Anthology George Benson
2000 Individuality (Can I Be Me?) Rachelle Ferrell
2000 Southbound Eric Essix
2001 Cruisin' Marc Antoine
2001 Crush Richard Elliot
2001 Glow Peter White
2001 It Takes a Village Various Artists
2001 Kisses in the Rain Rick Braun
2001 Unconditional Kirk Whalum
2002 Best Smooth Jazz Ever Various Artists
2002 Face the Music George Duke
2002 Just Chillin' Norman Brown
2002 Surrender Jonathan Butler
2003 Blackstar Yahzarah
2003 Dexterity Julie Dexter
2003 Ricochet Richard Elliot
2003 Surrender to Love Kindred the Family Soul
2003 Very Best of Marc Antoine Marc Antoine
2004 Best of Birds of a Feather Birds of a Feather
2004 In a Smooth Groove Various Artists
2004 Intellipop Rhonda Smith
2004 Kickin' It Up Gerald Albright
2004 Livin' Large Euge Groove
2004 West Coast Coolin' Norman Brown
2005 Free Alex Bugnon
2005 Kimberly Holloway Kimberly Holloway
2007 Interpretations: Celebrating the Music of Earth, Wind and Fire Various Artists
2007 Lost & Found Ledisi
2007 Ready for Love Walter Beasley
2007 Ultimate George Duke George Duke
2008 Like You Mean It Joey Sommerville
2008 Heard That Jeff Lorber
2008 Dukey Treats George Duke
2009 Send On Your Love Boney James
2009 Lookin' Back Bob Baldwin
2009 Bob Baldwin 3 Disc Collector's Pack Bob Baldwin
2009 Birmingham Eric Essix
2010 Now Is The Time The Jeff Lorber Fusion
2010 Backatcha! Walter Beasley
2010 Authenticity The Foreign Exchange
2011 Renegades Mark de Clive-Lowe
2011 In the Zone Richard Elliot
2011 From the Heart Jessica Reedy
2012 Well Done Joshua Rodgers
2012 Introduction Zacardi Cortez
2012 R&B Divas Faith Evans
2012 Life & Favor John P. Kee
2012 Twenty Bob Baldwin
2013 L.O.L. (Living Out Loud) Alexis Spight
2014 The Sun Room Avery Sunshine
2014 The Heartbeat Lil John Roberts
2014 Enter the Dynasty Dontae Winslow


  • In terms of rock music, John likes blink-182, Tool, Fuel, and Foo Fighters.
  • John's favorite movies include Coming to America, the Godfather, Napoleon Dynamite.
  • John's heroes are Mom and Dad, fellow musicians, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Mandela, Fela Kuti, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Sly Stone, Julius Erving, and Jesus Christ.

Instruments of Choice



Drums: Brady
Cymbals: Zion
Sticks: Vater

Pics & Clips