Byron, born in Columbus in 1947, began playing the clarinet at age nine; at 13 he took up the sax and the flute at 19. When he was 16, he landed his first professional gig with a dance band.

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 since its foundation in 1973. As a versatile musician, he also performs in a guitar/flute duo with Stan Smith, the JuJu Bees, a rock ‘n’ roll band and with the small jazz ensemble, Standard Time. Considered to be one of Columbus’ most accomplished musicians, he is a “super sub” filling in with numerous 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.

Byron Rooker