(Courtesy of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette)
Roscoe Crosby Blunt, Jr, also known as Rockie Blunt was born in the Swedish District of Worcester, MA, Quinsigamond Village 1. He has been interested in jazz music since childhood and spent his early music career in African-American area of Worcester, MA, the Laurel-Clayton area. He took drumming lessons as a kid at the Lincoln Square Boys Club and his father encouraged him to take these lessons. In one of his interviews 1, Roscoe Blunt reports that his father took him to all of the jazz concerts in Worcester. His mother, who was a pianist actually, was against his musical studies though.
He took drumming lessons, and at age 12, he was invited to join the local jazz band the Saxtrum Club2. His father asked the older musicians in the group if they can include Roscoe as a drummer in their group. He was physically so small that, he could not even reach the drum pedal 1. According to Roscoe Blunt’s writings, they were performing their jazz music in almost all the night clubs in Worcester.
Roscoe had to put a breakpoint into his musical career due to the World War II. In 1943, when he was 18 years old and freshmen at Clark University, he was drafted to the army 2. His English professor noticed Roscoe’s writing skills and recommended him to improve these skills before he left for the army. In his interview with Telegram, Roscoe Blunt describes his professor’s thoughts about his writing skills; “He told me it would be a mistake not to make writing my profession”2.
He was in the US army between September 1944 and March 1946. He fought in France, Holland, Belgium and Germany with the 84th Infantry Division. He participated in wellknown Battle of the Bulge, capturing Hannover and moving into Germany. Towards the end of his duty, he earned the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and the Expert Infantry Badge. Later on he also earned the Combat Infantry Badge. While in the army, he played in army bands throughout the US camps across Europe. He wrote down almost every incident he had seen during war and he benefited from these notes to publish Inside the Battle of the Bulge: A Private Comes of Age in 1994 and Foot Soldier: An Infantryman’s War in Europe in 2001.
When he returned back to Worcester in 1946, he continued his musical career in the Saxtrum Club. Later on he left this club and joined the Bob Chester Band; but he did not spend a long time playing with this band; because he was accepted into New England Conservatory in 1946. In 1947, a new jazz band Rockie Blunt All Stars was formed with the members of the Saxtrum Club. In 1948, Roscoe Blunt married with his wife, Beatrice, and moved to Shrewsbury where he still lives. He majored in percussion and graduated with honor in the History of Jazz Studies in 19491.In mid 1950s he disbanded the group Rockie Blunt All Stars, since he thought it was very difficult to find a pianist compatible with the group. His interest in music continued until a few years ago, but he quitted playing drums since he could not carry his drums anymore. He has also served as a police and fire reporter for the Evening Gazzette for over 30 years to improve his writing skills. As a result of his success in being a reporter, he earned 35 awards and three keys to the city 2.
Roscoe Blunt had difficulties with adapting to his old life once he was back from war. He lost his hearing and ability to walk without help on the front line. In his interview with Telegram, he says that people who had not been there would never understand how difficult it was. He remembers the violent scenes from the war, such as a woman and child murdered, people being gunned down and concentration camps.
In 1994, he published his first book, Inside the Battle of the Bulge: A Private Comes of Age. In this book, Roscoe Blunt describes the adventures of the 84th Infantry Division from its union at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey in 1944 until the days they fought in Belgium, Holland, Germany and France 3. In 2001, he published his second book, Foot Soldier: An Infantryman’s War in Europe. He wrote about the daily life of a lowly infantryman during World War II 4.
Roscoe Blunt currently lives in Shrewsbury, MA alone, since his wife passed away in 2005. Mr. Blunt is also one of a dozen American veterans to participate in the History Channel’s 10-part series “WWII in HD” aired Nov. 15-19 2009, where he is narrated by actor Gary Sinise2.
- He was born in the Swedish district of Worcester, MA, Quinsigamond Village on July 29, 19251
- 1938, he was accepted into Saxtrum Club, a jazz band in Clayton-Laurel neighborhood, as a drummer
- 1943, he joined the army for the World War II and he played in army bands at US camps throughout Europe
- During his time at army, he wrote down notes and collected material for Inside the Battle of the Bulge: A Private Comes of Age and Foot Soldier: An Infantryman’s War in Europe
- 1946, he returned to Worcester and continued playing in Saxtrum Club
- 1946, he left Saxtrum Club and joined Bob Chester Band
- 1946, he was accepted to New England Conservatory of Music
- 1947, while at conservatory a new jazz band called Rockie Blunt All-Stars was formed from the players at the Saxtrum Club
- 1948, he married with his wife, Beatrice, and moved to Shrewsbury2
- 1949, he graduated from New England Conservatory of Music with a major in percussion and honor in the History of the Jazz Studies
- Mid 1950s, he disbanded the group since he thought he could not find a pianist compatible with Rockie Blunt All-Stars
- For more than 30 years he served as a police and fire reporter for the Evening Gazzette
- He continued playing drums until just a few years ago, since he could not carry his drums anymore
- 2005, his wife passed away
- He currently lives in Shrewsbury, MA.
- Inside the Battle of the Bulge: A Private Comes of Age (1994)
- Foot Soldier: An Infantryman’s War in Europe (2001)
- "Roscoe "Rocky" Blunt". New England Jazz History Database. April, 2010 <http://www.jazzhistorydatabase.com/collections/blunt/bio.html>.
- Franchi, Valerie. "History Channel to feature Shrewsbury WWII veteran". telegram.com. April, 2010 <http://www.telegram.com/article/20091113/NEWS/911130475/1011>.
- "Inside the Battle of the Bulge: A Private Comes of Age". Amazon. April, 2010 <http://www.amazon.com/Inside-Battle-Bulge-Private-Comes/dp/0275945456>
- "Foot Soldier: A Combat Infantryman's War in Europe". Library Thing. April, 2010 <http://www.librarything.com/work/65180>.