"He was also as drunk as a coot," Roberts remembered.
He retrieved the guitar and played a couple of Hank Snow songs.
"And Chubby just got in the floor, laughing his butt off," Roberts said.
Roberts said he'd played the songs just like Joe Talbert, Snow's original steel player, used to. Wise told him Snow had been looking for years for someone who played the steel guitar like Talbert but had never found anyone. The problem was Snow already had a steel player -- and a good one.
"Jerry Crawford was a great steel player," Roberts said. "He could play rings around me, but Hank didn't like him too much. They just weren't fond of one another."
And Crawford didn't play in the same style as Talbert or Roberts. Wise helped Roberts get the job playing rhythm guitar, and he more or less waited in the wings until Crawford quit a year later.
Roberts got into music in an odd way. His father was involved with bands, mostly with management and promotion.
"He never played in any of them," he said.
But Roberts said there were always musical instruments around, and sooner or later, he was just bound to pick them up and try them.
"I started off playing guitar and singing," he said and laughed. "I won several big contests for that in Florida, but I never wanted to be a singer. It just wasn't for me."
Instead, he focused on different string instruments. From guitar, he picked up the bass.
"It didn't take me long to hate that thing," he said, which led him to the steel guitar.
Roberts said he plays the steel guitar the old way. When steel guitar players moved to playing with pedals in the 1960s, he never followed. He just never liked the sound.
Roberts said he still loves to play, and between shows with Rob McNurlin and the Beatnik Cowboys, church shows and the occasional tribute to Hank Snow, he keeps as busy as he wants to.
"I'll work as long as I'm able," he said.
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.