Byron was born in Columbus in 1947 and began playing the clarinet at age nine. At 13 he took up the sax and the flute at age 19. His first professional gig was with a dance band at age 16. After graduating from Worthington High School, he earned a Bachelor of Music in Clarinet Performance from Capital University. Although his focus was classical performance, he also studied jazz saxophone, arranging and piano with Dave Wheeler. During the Vietnam War, Rooker was stationed in Berlin and played in the Army band. Later, he toured briefly with Paul Anka and Doc Severinsen.
Rooker has played with the CJO from the very beginning, since 1973. A versatile musician, he also plays in a guitar/ flute duo with Stan Smith, with the JuJu Bees, a rock and roll band, and with the small jazz ensemble, Standard Time. Considered to be one of Columbus’ most accomplished musicians, he is a “super sub” with many other bands in all styles.
Besides playing and arranging music, Rooker is an amateur photographer, a fanatical reader and a life-long student of philosophy and comparative religions.