Born in The Bronx, he descended from Polish Jews who came to New York City via London and was raised in Spanish Harlem. His family (original name: Rogenstein) possessed a strong musicality; his father and several of his uncles sang in the choir of notable hazzan Joseph Rosenblatt, and his mother had taught in Africa, Mexico, and elsewhere which inspired an interest in music from other nations. In addition to this foundation, the mamboand jazz genres were simply popular in the neighborhood.
As a student of the playing of jazz trombonists Jack Teagarden, Lawrence Brown and J. C. Higginbotham, Rogers began to play Latin music in the mid-1950s and would be most associated with it from then on. He developed his style working with Eddie Palmieri. Willie Colón regarded Rogers as his strongest musical influence, and would feature him in many of his productions. Bobby Valentín would feature Rogers in his classic song “El Jíbaro y la Naturaleza”, which led then-singer Marvin Santiago to nickname him “El Terror de los Trombones” for the record (Rogers’ trombone tone was regarded as one of the loudest in salsa music).
Rogers worked with musicians such as Palmieri, Israel “Cachao” López, Machito, Manny Oquendo, Andy González, Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Cheo Feliciano, Johnny Pacheco, Chino Rodríguez, the Fania All-Stars, and many more. Although fundamentally known as a salsa trombonist, as a studio recording musician, he collaborated with jazz, soul and pop luminaries. A founding member of the jazz-rock band Dreams, which included the brothers Michael and Randy Brecker and Billy Cobham, he also performed with James Taylor, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Todd Rundgren, Grover Washington, Jr., Ron Carter, George Benson, Carly Simon, David Byrne, Bob James, Spyro Gyra, Bob Moses, Elton John and Don Grolnick, among others. He was the father of noted trumpeter Chris Rogers.