Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011 | 7:09 p.m.
Interview with George Rountree Jr.
After working for more than 30 years as the musical leader for the Four Tops, George Rountree Jr. died Sunday at a Las Vegas hospital. He was 61.
Rountree, known simply as Tree to his fellow musicians, was the famous quartet’s musical director, plus sometimes arranger, composer and keyboardist.
He was a master of the music, said friend Will Miller, who has performed with the Four Tops on the trumpet since 1981.
“He knew the music without looking at the music,” Miller said. “He knew every note. Anywhere onstage, he knew the music.”
Miller said he last saw Rountree a month ago when he came with the group for a performance in Southern California.
“He was a very nice guy, there was not a bad streak in him at all,” Miller said.
Rountree lived a life full of music, and got to perform with some of the industry’s biggest stars, including the Temptations, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Mary Wilson, Martha Reeves, Frankie Valli, Bill Withers, Freda Payne and David Ruffin.
Born May 13, 1950, in Detroit, Rountree was taking piano lessons by the time he was 8 years old. His first stint as an assistant band and choir director came while he was still attending high school, where he played the trombone, tuba, French horn and other brass instruments.
Rountree performed in Las Vegas frequently and lived here since 2000. He and his wife, Beverly Paris Rountree, were married in 2005 at the Stardust.
In addition to his wife, Rountree is survived by his son, George Rountree III, of Columbus, Ohio. Funeral arrangements are pending.