At the age of five, Lionel Hampton gave him his first pair of mallets, which led to the vibraphone being his trademark sound for decades. The area of Los Angeles Ayers grew up in, now known as "South Central", but then known as "South Park", was the epicenter of the Southern California Black Music Scene. The schools Roy attended (Wadsworth Elementary, Nevins Middle School, and Thomas Jefferson High School) were all close to the famed Central Avenue, Los Angeles' equivalent of Harlem's Lenox Avenue and Chicago's State Street. On any given day, Roy would have been likely to be exposed to music as it not only emanated from the many nightclubs and bars in the area, but also poured out of many of the homes where the musicians who kept the scene alive stayed in and around Central. Thomas Jefferson High School, from which Ayers graduated, gave to the music and jazz worlds some of its brightest stars like Dexter Gordon and Ginger Smock Shipp. This is perhaps where Roy contracted the infection of music that still courses through his veins today.
Often called the "Godfather of acid jazz" because of his popularity in England in the '80s, Roy Ayers may be best known for his song "Everybody Loves the Sunshine", the title track to his 1976 effort which has been sampled by numerous hip-hop artists including 'Queen Of Hip-Hop Soul', Mary J. Blige's multi-platinum, "My Life", as well as "Wake Up (Reprise in the Sunshine)" by hip hop group, Brand Nubian. "Everybody Loves the Sunshine" and the acclaimed "Daylight" appeared on 1977's Come into Knowledge, an album which was recorded by RAMP, (sometimes known as Roy Ayers Musical Productions) and released on the Blue Thumb Records (both tracks are also available on the 1998's Mellow Mellow, a compilation by Harmless Records.)
Other notable songs by Ayers include "Running Away", "Searching", "We Live in Brooklyn", "Don't Stop The Feeling", "Poo Poo La La" and "Sensitize" (co-written by Ayers protege' Wayne K. Garfield) which was sampled by rap star, Black Rob, in his debut platinum-plus cd title song, "Life Story". Roy Ayers recorded and toured with Nigerian superstar, Fela Kuti in the 1970s. The duo covered another Ayers song collaboration with Garfield-the provocative, "2000 Black" (Got To Be Free) from the international smash cd, "Africa-Center Of The World". It is worth noting that artist-writer-producer, Jazzy B of the hit act, Soul II Soul, mentioned during a group appearance on the famed-American music television show, "Soul Train", that the inspiration to form the band came from listening to "Africa-Center Of The World". Ayers was also responsible for the soundtrack to Jack Hill's 1973 blaxploitation film Coffy which starred Pam Grier.