At the tender age of 8 in 1962, Hesperia resident/drummer Roger Gillespie realized he was destined for the limelight. Gillespie says he had been practicing for a few months with a snare drum and symbol and quickly mastered the beat to the Surfaris' tune "Wipe Out."


The next thing the Corona native knew, he had landed his first gig at a prom party in his older brother Terry's band. From that moment on, Gillespie has been riding high in a career that he says has filled his life with more magic than he could have ever envisioned.


"I decided I was going to be a professional musician in high school and went full-bore in my early 20s," said Gillespie. "I studied under the renowned drummer John Perett, who toured with everyone from Ray Charles to Donna Summer.


"He not only taught me many very important things but also would take me to the rehearsals of the stars he worked with. I was a very lucky boy."


Armed with his skills and blossoming talent, a 20-something Gillespie began playing in local bands. As his experience grew, so did his calendar. Soon, Gillespie found himself playing for A-list musicians, such as Kenny Loggins, The Coasters, The Smothers Brothers and Paul Williams.


"I got a call once to play on Paul Williams' own studio version of the hit song he wrote for The Carpenters, 'We've Only Just Begun,'" said Gillespie. "The record was released on the old A&M Records (label) and was produced by Herb Alpert.


"I was only in my 20s but I remember it well. I think that will go down as one of my all-time favorite experiences."


Gillespie says there have been many times he's had to pinch himself while on stage or in the studio with the array of legendary performers he's worked with. But nothing compares to sharing the bill with his beloved wife/singer DiAne, who he has been married to for 28 years.


The couple met in a studio session for one of DiAne's recording projects and married soon after. Gillespie says DiAne, a former artist on the Warner/Curb label, had a house in Hesperia at the time and it seemed like a good place to begin their journey.


They started a band and toured for several years.


"The first time I heard DiAne sing, her voice blew me away," said Gillespie, a guitar instructor at Excelsior Charter School in Victorville. "I thought, 'Now that's a real voice.' It just moved me."


In recent years, Gillespie has been going strong playing at live gigs and on studio projects. He also performs with DiAne in the jazz band ZZAJ, as well as in Trainwreck Theater, a group that re-creates the music of the Beatles.


Additionally, Gillespie has spent the last 20 years giving drum lessons at Roll Over Beethoven's music store in Hesperia. During his teaching career, Gillespie has written three instructional books for drums and guitar.


"I started teaching because I felt it was a good idea to be diverse in terms of how I could make money," said Gillespie. "It's been very rewarding and even though I've had to cut back the last few years due to my very busy schedule, I really love it."


For more information, visit www.rogeragillespie.com.