Frequently Asked Questions

In your book "Spilling The Beans"... of all the people that you talked with, which answer surprised you the most?

The wino, the wino that I spoke to after I spoke with the professor on page 11. What surprised me about what the wino did, is his confidence. He was straight forward and what made an impact on me was he was able to get his point across with just a few words.

That story in your book about “The Girl Who Never Quit,” was that about a real person?

Sure was, and she still hasn’t quit. She’s a wonderful wife, mother of a toddler, and pediatric anesthesiologist.

How long have you been writing?

Ever since I was a little boy in Santa Anna. I love to share stories, so writing comes naturally. I was about eight or nine years old when I would write letters and poems and take them to my girlfriend, Az Biggs who lived five miles away in Coleman, Texas.

Right now, on the tree in back of our old house, you’ll see Sonny (my nickname) + AZ. Many years later, shortly before she passed away, we talked by phone. I told her that her name was probably carved on every tree in Santa Anna saying, “Sonny + AZ.” I could feel her smiling through the phone when she said, “I would really love to see that.”

How did you learn to break down words the way you do?

Universal observation and application. My favorite inspiration for clearer understanding comes from a friend and highly respected scholar that I call professor WD. He took me down past the roots and up through the roof. I’m still climbing Yea-a-aa I had to find my “me.” Everyone has a “me.” It’s right under our noses – and at the same time, can be hard to find. To see what it is read about it in my book “Spilling The Beans: A Book For The World.” It can help you see how to break down words too.

Did you have any hobbies as a youngster?

Yes, my hobby was sketching. My cousin, Eddie Carl, came to Santa Anna to live with us and he was a skilled commercial artist. I was fascinated and wanted to become a sketch artist. He taught me to sketch and use shading techniques. I became fairly good at sketching.

Do you like today’s music?

Yes, I find it very creative. Those TV talent competitions are doing a great job inspiring many new singers, musicians and performers to challenge themselves and hold the audience spellbound. So, yes, I love it. They’ve taken it to another dimension. It’s thumbs up from me.

If you could select one super power to have, what would it be?

I would penetrate the borders between life and death to talk with those who have experienced both.

Who did you write your hit song “She’s Looking Good” about?

I wrote “She’s Looking Good” about and for a person who believed in me, my talent, and my possibilities. She encouraged me every step of the way and she lived to see “She’s Looking Good” become #1 on the pop and soul charts. Every time she heard the song she would smile. She knew it was about her.

What have you done that would surprise your fans?

I am a trained swimmer and a former licensed water safety instructor. I trained life guards in San Francisco and in Los Angeles.

How do you spend most of your time?

I spend most of my time thinking and appreciating The ONE that gave me this loan called LIFE. If life is a loan then I must spend it the best way I can.

Who designed the outfits you wore on stage; especially that unique green suit in the “Rodger Collins rare video” on YouTube?

Most of the clothes I wore on stage were designed and made by Lilli Vason. I was also trained to be a tailor and I also made some of the outfits I wore. The string of unique short sleeve suits I wore were created and designed by me and made by Lilli.

How old are you and tell us something you do now that may surprise your fans?

I am 83 years old. The surprise to my fans may be that I still run the stairs out by Lake Merritt, a little slower now, but I still do the stairs.

What fun time did you have as a boy in your hometown, Santa Anna, Texas?

Some super fun times that I loved as a child in Santa Anna Texas was talking and learning from two elderly wise men. One was my uncle Joe Wilson and the other one was the incomparable Mr. Jake Hamilton (a family friend.) They both highly respected me (even though I was a child) and were very patient and heartfelt with me. They shared their wisdom that helps me even to this day. They constantly told me that I was on some type of special Journey and that I should never “play it cheap.” It was a fun time for me. Other special fun times I remember is with my close childhood friend James Allen, who became a 12 times world champion rodeo cow roper. James taught me to ride and rope. I then taught myself how to ride my horse Silver standing on his back with no saddle or bridle while he was running. I controlled his movement, starting, stopping and turning with my foot movements – or when barefoot, with my toes. (check out the photo of me with Silver on the My Journey blog post.)

What is your favorite memory of Texas:

My favorite memory of Texas was my grandmother and my horse. My grandmother raised me and was very kind. The time I spent with my horse Silver was very special too.

I thought my horse Silver was a mighty champion stallion but when I look back at the pictures he looks more like a mutt. But, I loved my horse because we were friends. I mean I loved my horse and my horse loved me. I could ride my horse with him running while I was standing on his bare back (no saddle). He would never make a quick turn or anything and hurt me. I taught him how to do tricks.

Are you working on a new book?

Yes, actually I’m working on six more books. I’m very excited about all of them. I’m very close to releasing the next book, “Guess Who I Met!”

Who are some of your favorite singers?

Sam Cooke, Nat King Cole, Gladys Knight, Little Richard, Wilson Pickett, Tina Turner, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Luciano Pavarotti, and Lightning Hopkins.

Who are some of your favorite guitar players?

Chuck Berry, Johnny Guitar Watson, Ike Turner, Guitar Shorty, Wes Montgomery, Freddie King, Roy Clark, and Milton Hopkins.

Is it true that you were good friends with Ike and Tina Turner?

Yes, like family, in fact on my record “Get Away From Me” that’s Ike playing one of the lead guitar’s and Tina is doing the engineering. That’s Ike’s band playing on the record with me – we all had a grand time on that session.

I remember planning a visit to LA, after I hadn’t been there for a while. I called Tina and her sister Aileen answered the phone. I told her that I was coming to LA in about two weeks and asked if we could get together for dinner. Aileen said, “Rodger Collins, when I see you, I’m going to hug you like I’m never going to get the chance to hug no more.” Now that’s what I call family.

How did it feel to be on the same bill with Elvis Presley, Ike and Tina Turner, and Redd Foxx at the International Hotel in Las Vegas?

I am still extremely honored because I had recently retired and disbanded my band. Ike and Tina Turner loaned me their band for my show. I remember Little Richard telling me, “I don’t know anybody else Ike would’ve loaned his band to Rodger, but you.”

Who are your favorite performers?

Ike and Tina Turner, Jackie Wilson, and in his younger days the absolute mesmerizing show stopper was James Brown. I share more about my relationship with these performers and others in my next book.

How do you know all of these things you write about?

Through suffering and endurance, I learned to appreciate the joys of my journey.

Did you ever experience any hurt or pain as a performer?

Yes, I’ve had some hurt. I can share the hurt I experienced upon hearing how they had killed Sam Cooke and left his body in the morgue for almost a week. His friend Johnny Morrisette told me they didn’t even have his name on the identification tag on his toe. It just said, “Negro male.” Little Richard and I talked about that quite often.

Can you think of any other extreme pain you had?

I hate to dwell on pain, but I’ll share one more with you. Yes, the way they characterized Ike Turner in the press. I never knew that monster that they were talking about. Ike Turner was my close friend and I know he did many good things for many people.

What is your general mood nowadays?

Super, I see so many wonderful opportunities blossoming. We finally see people all over the world coming together.

I heard that you received a scholarship and were tutored by Mara Alexander Gilbert at the Actors’ Lab in San Francisco. How was that experience; how did it go?

Superb! Mara Alexander Gilbert was such a skilled instructor I learned many techniques about theater which later helped me in my onstage performances and as a recording artist. I am also grateful to the acclaimed actress Marjorie Steele (star of Cat on a hot tin roof) for sponsoring my scholarship.