OldWestNewWest.com: History & Travel Magazine

Feb 22nd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home Places to Visit Museums Roy Rogers’s First Guitar Acquired by Autry National Center In Los Angeles

Roy Rogers’s First Guitar Acquired by Autry National Center In Los Angeles

Hits smaller text tool iconmedium text tool iconlarger text tool icon
It's beat up, there are splits and cracks in the soundboard, and if you saw the guitar at a garage sale maybe you might offer a couple of bucks for it, but the folks at the Autry National Center in Los Angeles are mighty happy to have it.

The acoustic guitar just happens to be the one that started Roy Roger's singing career in 1929 when he was still known as Leonard Slye. Rogers bought the guitar for $20 at a second-hand shop in Cincinnati, Ohio, before making his way to California.

royrogersguitar The early 20th Century acoustic guitar, made by Aida Mandolins and Guitars, was part of the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum Collection auctioned at Christie's Auction House in New York City on July 14-15, 2010.

The acquisition was announced July 22, and was made possible by Lora and Bob Sandroni, with additional support provided by Stuart Simon and Jo-Carole and Gary M. Zechel.

Being the guitar that helped launch Roy Roger's career is unique enough for fans of "The King of the Cowboys," as Rogers was known, but there's something else that's special about the wooden guitar.

The instrument and case include a small plaque that reads, "This is your life, Roy Rogers, Jan. 14, 1953 ‘Young Leonard Slye bought this guitar for $20. He learned to play it and to sing-and so became Roy Rogers, America's most beloved cowboy star.'"

The guitar was presented to Rogers on the 1953 episode of Ralph Edwards's This Is Your Life television program.

The YouTube link to the Ralph Edwards This Is Your Life program can be found at

"The Autry is proud to add this important guitar, which sparked the illustrious career of Roy Rogers, to our collection," said John Gray, President and CEO of the Autry.

The guitar joins other Rogers objects in the Autry's permanent collection. These include the newly acquired Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Archive, which contains key artifacts representing the duo's entertainment career of more than 50 years.

These items will be catalogued, conserved, and digitized, allowing greater access to researchers and the general public through exhibitions and the Autry's two online databases: the library catalog, and Collections Online, the digital database.

Artifacts relating to Roy and Dale from the museum's permanent collection are currently on display in the Imagination Gallery and the museum lobby. The highlight of the collection is the one-of-a-kind plastic saddle Roy rode aboard his horse, Trigger, as Marshal of the 1952 Tournament of Roses Parade.

The saddle is presently on display along with Roy's parade ribbons in the museum lobby in conjunction with the release of the United States Postal Service's "Cowboys of the Silver Screen" stamp series.

Over the next few years, the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Archive will be used to help develop the Golden Age of Television Westerns exhibition at the Autry, which will examine the cultural and social history of television Westerns.

Places to Visit