Roger Romeo
of Legs Diamond,
The TVD Interview

Legs Diamond might be one of the most underappreciated rock and roll bands of our generation.  Founded in 1975, this relatively unknown band from Los Angeles burst onto the scene in the shadow of legends like Scorpions and Deep Purple and over the years developed a cult following the likes of which had never been seen in classic rock. 

The Vinyl District recently sat down with original guitarist and songwriter Roger Romeo to dig into a band that has withstood the test of time and left an immeasurable imprint on rock and roll as we know it today. Roger opens up about his start in music, how Legs Diamond came to be, and some interesting perspectives on who he feels are the next generation of rock and roll stars.  

Tell us how you got started in music?

I was about 15 years old. Me and two buddies were kind of like a trio. We were always hanging out with this one group of girls. One night we we’re all hanging out over at one of the girls’ houses and it was the first time The Beatles were on Ed Sullivan. As soon as they took the stage, the girls in the room started screaming. I mean literally, they just went completely berserk.  The guys looked at each other and said, “We’re getting guitars.” The three of us got two guitars and a bass for Christmas and that was the start of my music career in 1965, if you can believe that.

What other artists inspired you to become a musician?

I’m a lead player, and it really was the three incredible musicians from The Yardbirds—Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page. That’s where I first started my lead solo training. As far as rhythm guitar, I pretty much learned how to play listening to Stones’ songs that were covering black American artists (the first few Stones albums have a lot of covers on them).  It was basically normal chord patterns, a lot of Chuck Berry, that kind of stuff.  I have to add Keith Richards in there for rhythm guitar playing.

Help our readers understand how Legs Diamond come to be?

I was in a band back in Detroit in 1975 and the whole group was planning on moving out to LA.  We were all set to go and at the last second, the band broke up. I was already set to go, so my roadie packed up the van and went to LA on our own. Upon arrival, I started auditioning for a number of different bands including Legs Diamond, The Raspberries, and a few others. Many may not know this, but prior to Legs Diamond, I was actually the lead singer in an all-Asian disco band. True story.

Then from the original crew in Legs Diamond, I was the last one to join (I’m referring to the band that actually did the first 3 albums in the beginning). Jeff Poole (drummer) and Michael Diamond (bass) were up in the Bay Area before they moved down to LA and were actually using the name way back then. Depending on where you want to start the origin of the band, it actually goes back further than LA.

In 1980, the original band broke up after three killer albums.  What happened?

There was kind of a fragmentation going on over the years after the release of Fire Power. Legs Diamond wasn’t doing a whole lot right at that time, and I wanted to put my own band together during the down time. In those days it’s not something you could do, and bands were pretty locked up.  We butted heads bit and I ultimately left the band (I was actually the first to go).

Fast forward to 1984, Mike Prince and Rick Sanford put the band back together prior to Out on Bail being released.  However, that’s was just Rick and Mike though. Jeff Poole was gone. Michael Diamond was gone. I was gone.

The band’s lineup has obviously changed a ton over the years as many from that era have.  What were some of the biggest changes to date to your original sound? 

Well, we put an album out in 2005, Diamonds are Forever, with a different lead singer. We received some feedback prior to that album that we should definitely keep in the melodic hard rock lane vs. going really heavy. Ultimately, we wanted to keep Legs Diamond’s definitive sound alive—coupled with some updated production techniques—in order to make it sound a lot newer than say, our ’70s albums.

Help us understand the unique cult following the band has back in San Antonio?

It’s all about airplay. Anyplace that Legs Diamond got airplay, we were popular.  Joe “The Godfather” Anthony played a huge part in that back in San Antonio. He showcased our music and as a result we had a huge following which still continues on to this day. We love San Antonio! Bottom line—where we got airplay, we actually sold albums and were popular. But nobody can buy your albums if they haven’t heard of you. If you’re not on the radio, they can’t buy it, at least not back then.

What’s the biggest difference between bands of your era and recording artists today?

Not to be egotistical, but I think Legs Diamond had really good songwriting. It was me, Michael Diamond, or Michael Prince that pretty much wrote all the songs from day one. We worked very well together and all had a solid understanding of what a song should ultimately sound like.

Any new bands that have caught your attention over the past few years?

I think there’s a resurgence of hard rock coming. My three favorite newer hard rock bands are Dirty Honey, Rival Sons, and Greta Van Fleet. Marc Labelle of Dirty Honey and Jay Buchanan of Rival Sons are two of the best lead singers I’ve ever heard in my life. I applaud those bands for sure—simply amazing.

Outside of Legs Diamond, what projects have been working on recently?

Legs Diamond is my main focus, but I have another band called The Blueprint. We were working on a new original CD, but our bass player had to move back to Detroit, so it’s kind of put the kibosh on that in the short term. I’m still in The Blueprint, and we play locally here in Southern California. Our focus is mainly on covers along with a few originals from time to time.

Anything Legs Diamond fans can expect heading into 2020?

We’re working on a new CD with a new lead singer Keith England, and we now have enough songs to finish it. In addition to some killer songwriting, this one will have top-notch production. Mike Prince, our keyboard player, is a genius in Pro Tools and he’s the guy that’s putting this album together. He’s worked for legends like Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, and Usher and is considered one of the best in the industry by far.

Looking back over a near 45-year career with Legs Diamond, is there anything you would have done differently based on what you know today?

I think our biggest problem was our management in the ’70s. Those Toby/Entner people—Warren Entner and David Joseph—really screwed our career, and it wasn’t just us. Quiet Riot, Legs Diamond, and Angel were all managed by them and they messed up all three of our careers. Slaughtered it, let’s put it that way.

As you are aware, TVD is focused on all things vinyl. What was one of the first albums you can recall dropping on a turntable?

I bought 45s pretty early on. I have a sister who is seven years older than me, so I was into rock and roll in the ’50s. I would play all of her records—I go way back. If you want to really know how old I am, my first record was a yellow 78 of Mary Martin in Peter Pan singing “I Gotta Crow.”

I would say the major buying of albums for me was in the ’60s starting with the pre-British invasion and then certainly British invasion. Me and my guitar buddies were just crazy for all the British groups…The Kinks and Stones—the badder the boys, the more we liked it. We definitely liked the Rolling Stones and The Kinks a little more than The Beatles even though they wrote great songs.

Do you think vinyl sounds different from music captured digitally?

There is definitely a difference. Vinyl’s like a palette of color, and it’s so rich. People who can tell the difference just flock to it. You know what I mean? But then a lot of the normal users who just want some kind of a representation of that song on their phone, then there are Mp3s for them. With our upcoming release, vinyl will definitely be in the mix!

As we wrap up, we have a few rapid-fire questions from our community.

Okay—fire away!

During your self-quarantine, what TV series have you been binging on?

Freud on Netflix.

Outside of music, do you have any hobbies?

I’m pretty much immersed in music, to be honest with you.

What’s your all-time favorite movie?

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Who’s your favorite vocalist?

Paul Rodgers.

Sunken Garden Theater in San Antonio or the Whisky a Go Go in Hollywood?

That’s a tough one. I don’t want bum out any of my San Antonio peeps, but I’m from LA, so I have to say the Whisky. But one of my favorite places to play was the Sunken Garden.

In-N-Out Burger or Whataburger?

Neither. I don’t eat beef.

Van Halen with David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar?

Sammy Hagar.

What’s your favorite guitarist?

Jeff Beck.

What’s your favorite Legs Diamond album?

A Diamond is a Hard Rock.

What’s your favorite Legs Diamond Song?

“Woman.” Fun fact, that song was originally two different songs. Next time you listen to it, pay attention to the intro. It was actually a song called “Lonely” that I had already wrote but didn’t make the cut. We ended up using the beginning of it for the beginning of “Woman.” I then wrote the music and the melody from the lyrics that Michael Diamond had written.

Before we close down here, is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

I just want to let everybody know that Legs Diamond is alive and kicking. We are currently working on finalizing our new album, and I think fans are going to love it. Quite frankly, the hold up before was finding a lead singer who sounds like Legs Diamond, and think we found that in Keith England.

In addition, we we’ll be back on the road for some Texas shows in October once all of this madness subsides. Finally, on behalf of Legs Diamond, I’d like to thank all of our incredible fans for their amazing and unwavering support over the years. We love you. Stay tuned and be safe!

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