Rod Lauren, the name RCA-Victor chose for Roger Strunk was an example of how a record company created singers out of next to nothing. Roger was a small club performer with an instrumental group called The Buddies when RCA spotted him on the West Coast and signed him. The company budgeted $50,000 to launch Rod’s first disk, bombarded dealers with promotional material, emphasizing the sullen good looks kids went for. For six weeks Rod toured the country wooing the jocks, bouncing from teen-age dance to teen-age dance. Unfortunately, the result was one charted song, “If I Had A Girl” and not much more success. Rod recorded many very nice “teeners” that never made it to radio. We’ll be playing some of these “songs you should have heard” on Tunedex Memories. He turned to acting and fared much better. In addition to bit parts on various television shows, he co-starred in a lot of “B-Movies”. One in particular, “The Crawling Hand” has gained cult status.
Sadly, the Police in Tracy City California have ruled Roger Lawrence “Rod” Strunk’s death a suicide. He was found bleeding from a second story fall on July 11th. While unconfirmed, the source of his unhappiness may have been the scrutiny he had been under for the death of his wife of 23 years, Filipino actress Nida Blanca. Mrs. Strunk had been found stabbed to death in 2002, and after the funeral, Rod returned to Tracy City to be with his mother who was dying of cancer. Philippine authorities attempted to extradite Rod but never provided US officials with enough evidence to warrant the move.
Rod stayed in California after his mother’s death and was working at Tracy City’s public -access station, Channel 26. A friend said that more recently he was helping to plan the 50 year reunion for Tracy High School’s Class of 1957. Rod is survived by a sister, Sharolyn Grove. Many of Rod’s early recordings can be heard on TUNEDEX MEMORIES!