A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Rudy Royston grew up in Denver, Colorado. As a toddler, he began playing drums and percussion, performing in church and along with an eclectic array of albums his siblings would have on rotation.
The youngest of five, Royston attributes his musical interests to his siblings and parents. His older brothers and sister were avid listeners of all music genres, while his mother was a strong support and his father a shipping supervisor at a children’s percussion manufacturer (from which he would bring home slightly damaged stock). As a result, young Royston grew up surrounded by bongos, rhythm sticks, xylophones, recorders, metallophones, glockenspiels, drums and other percussion instruments. With his mother's ceaseless support, he began studying music more formally, beginning in the fourth grade. He continued his music studies through high school, receiving some training on viola and tenor saxophone as well.
While a sophomore in high school, he attended on scholarship the Telluride Jazz Camp in Colorado, where he studied jazz drumming for the first time with Duffy Jackson and Ed Soph. He knew then that he would pursue music the rest of his life. He began studying classical and jazz repertoire, as well as marching-band percussion, rising to achieve membership into top-notch city- and state-wide high-school ensembles. Royston went on to study marching purcussion, classical percussion and jazz performance at University of Northern Colorado, Metropolitan State College of Denver and University of Denver. He graduated with honors from the latter, where he received bachelor of arts degrees in music and poetry. He received teaching credentials from Metro State.
While in college, Royston began playing with well-regarded trumpeter Ron Miles, whom he regards as his greatest teacher and music mentor. By then a major figure on the Denver music scene, Royston performed with artists such as Fred Fuller, Dale Bruning, Laura Newman, Fred Hess, Dotsero, Leslie Drayton, Joe Keel, Nelson Rangell and Bill Frisell.
Upon graduation, Royston went on to play and record in the gospel, alternative rock and jazz scenes in Denver and around the United States. He taught music for 10 years in public schools before relocating to the East Coast in 2006 to pursue graduate music studies at Rutgers University's Mason Gross School of the Arts, studying jazz percussion with the great Victor Lewis.
Royston quickly integrated himself into the New York music scene, performing with world-renowned artists such as Javon Jackson, Bill Frisell, Les McCann, David Gilmore, Ben Allison, Jason Moran, J.D. Allen, Sean Jones, Jeremy Pelt, Greg Osby, Jennifer Holliday, Tia Fuller, Ravi Coltrane, Ralph Bowen, Bruce Barth, George Colligan, Don Byron, Stanley Cowell, Tom Harrell, John Ellis, Jenny Scheinman and the Mingus Big Band, to name a few.
A lover of all music genres, Royston continues to expand his horizons as he gains increasing recognition in the jazz world.