A series of accidents led Roy Knapp Into the life of a professional musician. Of course, Knapp had been reared in music. His father was a violinist, and from his earliest days Knapp was taught to play the violin. Then he broke his left arm in such a way that, even after it healed, it was impossible for him to finger the strings of the violin.
So he took up the trumpet. His father wanted Knapp to be a farmer, and several times Knapp was put on a farm to learn agriculture. But Knapp's real ambition was to become a professional baseball player and he spent most of his spare time in the sandlots slugging balls. Knapp says now that if he hadn't broken practically every bone In his body, he would never have given up his ambition to play ball.
After he graduated from high school, he learned the painting trade. Knapp's father had just opened the first motion picture theater in Waterloo. Iowa, their home town. During the day. Knapp was working as a painter and in the evenings he was playing his trumpet at the theater, running the movie reels by hand and making posters to advertise forthcoming attractions. For recreation he slept. He still wasn't considering music seriously as a career.
Then one evening the drummer in the theater orchestra became suddenly ill and was unable to play. It was up to Knapp to take over his job, and from then on Knapp began to take his music seriously.
His first symphony engagement was with the Minneapolis Symphony orchestra when it was directed by the late Emil Oberhoefer. Since that time Knapp has played with a number of symphony orchestras and at one time played with Victor Herbert, the famous composer.
Knapp came to WLS seven years ago and has been a regular member of the concert orchestra, as well as one of the Cornhuskers. He has played on more network shows than he can remember and is at present in the orchestras heard on the Contented Hour with Morgan Eastman, on the Northerners program, and in the Edison Symphony concerts. in addition to the NBC-WLS barn dance every Saturday night. He is also one of the red-coated members of Uncle Ezra's Silver Cornet band.
When Knapp plays in an orchestra, he is completely surrounded by musical instruments. He plays the traps, chimes, xylophone, vibraharp and tympani.
In his work at the NBC studios, Knapp has met many famous singers, including Nelson Eddy, Lawrence Tibbett and Ernestine Schumann-Heinck.
The last few years he has spent much of his time in teaching students the percussion instruments and he takes pride in the fact that many of his pupils are playing in the leading orchestras of the country.
To look at Knapp you'd never believe that he is a sentimentalist at heart. You'd have to look at his collection of pictures to believe that. He has old faded pictures of his sister and brother in baby clothes, a highly prized picture of his mother who died when he was only 8, old-fashioned pictures of the orchestras he has played in since he was a youngster, and a number of childhood pictures of his daughter, who is now 23, and his son, who is 17.
Then, too, Knapp likes animals -- horses, dogs. cats and even snakes, and has brown eyes and brown wavy hair that he tries to keep straightened out. He is 5-foot-8. His birthday is October 26. Tucky, Knapp's little Boston bull pup, is a frequent visitor to the studios and waits quietly in Knapp's office while he is on the air.
From Standby, July 18, 1936