"Devil's Soul Pile" stems from an experience during his youth. "When I was a kid, we were in church every Sunday morning, and my parents would take me to these camp meetings," he recalled. "It would be a weekend of picnics and tailgating, but underneath these tents that were set up, preachers would preach all day and night. I remember this one time I was about nine or ten years old, and this one preacher kept talking about the devil as a collector of souls. I thought to myself, 'If he collects souls, they've got to be in a warehouse somewhere.' That happened when I was a kid. Fast forward about three or four years ago, and I went trout fishing with a friend of mine in the Sierras, and I see this road sign that says 'Devil's Post Pile," which was a town up there. It triggered that memory. I had to then think about what I was going to write about. Living in Los Angeles at that time, you saw something everyday about inner-city crime and what's going on with the youth. So, I based it around that, with the song ending with a message of hope. That got the album started, then I had to come up with more songs. "Memphis Me' was a catalog song of mine that I wrote some years ago. I just put it in a drawer and forgot about it. So, I dug that out and recorded it."
He turned nostalgic when asked to share the story of the song that gave him his initial break -- 1962's "Sheila." It all stemmed from, you guessed it, a girl.
"I wrote this song about a girl I was going to school with. I had a crush on her, and her name was Frieda. I wrote her this poem, and was going to give it to her. But, she moves out of the neighborhood, and I never got to give it to her. I put three chords to it, and wrote the song. I went around high school singing 'Sweet Little Frieda.' Then, I got an audition with a record producer to do a session, and I sang Frieda for him. He said he loved the song, but we had to do something about the title. So, we changed the title to Sheila. I recorded it while I was still in high school in Atlanta, but after that a friend of mine, Paul Drew -- who was a DJ -- introduced me to Felton Jarvis. He wanted to be a producer, and he remembered the local version of 'Sheila.' He wanted to re-do it. "That's a hit song,' he'd say."
Jarvis -- who would later produce Elvis Presley -- was right. The song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1962, and Roe was soon able to quit his full-time job with GE and work his music full-time. Did he ever get a chance to thank Frieda for the inspiration?
"She doesn't have a clue she started the whole thing for me," he said. "I don't know what happened to her."