Bop drummer Roy Porter was a heavy cat on the West Coast scene of the late '40s, famously recording with Charlie Parker and leading an forward-pointing big band that featured young musicians such as Eric Dolphy, Charles Mingus, Art Farmer and others. Drugs destroyed his career but his '70s mini-comeback material remains sought after by funk collectors.
A Colorado native, he went to college with Kenny Dorham in Texas. He was touring with Milt Larkin in '43 and landed in Los Angeles. His first recordings were with Howard McGhee in '45. In '46 he recorded with Bird for Dial (among them "Moose the Mooche", "Ornithology", "Yardbird Suite", "Night In Tunisia" - classics!).
A fixture on the bumping Central Avenue bop scene in Los Angeles, he regularly worked with Dexter Gordon, Teddy Edwards and Wardell Gray. Young Dolphy cut his first sides with Porter's band in '49. He also cut sessions as a sideman with Miles Davis, Leo Parker and others, as well as work in the Bay Area with Sonny Criss and others.
Porter ended up off the scene due to drugs for much of the '50s & '60s, although some studio work was still gettable. He cut some funk records in the '70s with his Sound Machine band before retiring. His memoirs, There And Back, came out in '91. He is remembered for his stature in the West Coast scene that proved an inspiration to the next generation of musicians such as Don Cherry, Dolphy and Mingus.