Ron in Marque Studios


"
When I first heard Elvis, like so many others of my generation, I wanted to be a singer. But when I heard Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Eddie Cochran, I knew I wanted to be a writer "

RON ROKER
Biography

As a teenager, Ron's dream of being a part of the new popular music scene became a reality. He became lead singer with 'The Jury', joining legendary guitarist Albert Lee, bass player Pat Donaldson and sax player Bob Xzavier. The Jury played the 2i's coffee bar, The Top Ten Club, The Breadbasket, Whiskey A Go-Go and many of London's West End and Soho Clubs. Soon they were on the road, gigging with acts such as Billy Fury, Jimmy Justice, Sounds Incorporated and The Checkmates. The Jury toured American airbases in the UK, tuning in to great soul singers such as Clyde Mc Phatter, Ray Charles, Ben E King, Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye, artists that were to have a big influence on Ron.

Ron's ambition was song-writing and producing. Welbeck Music, the publishing arm of PYE records and ATV, signed Ron as an in-house writer and song plugger. Ron was commissioned to write the theme tune for the TV puppet show, Rupert Bear. His song was recorded by Jackie Lee and went straight into the pop charts. Rupert Bear was seen in over 100 different countries and the song became a children's classic, appearing on countless compilations of children's music ever since. There was even a hilarious version by punk bank The Toy Dolls. The theme song for kids TV show Inigo Pipkin (Pipkins) was to follow.

Other writers were being signed to the company, including Barry Blue and Lynsey De Paul. Ron and Lynsey's first collaboration, Storm in a Tea Cup (the B-side of her first big seller Sugar Me) was covered by The Fortunes and went right into the top ten in 1972.

Don Kirshner Music, the American business behind the Monkeys, had just merged with Welbeck Music and a new company was formed with Sir Lou Grade's ATV, called ATV/Kirshner. Don Kirshner told Ron to concentrate on song writing and record production and this was a turning-point for Ron. Whilst looking for a music arranger for his first production, Ron met Gerry Shury and they became close friends and successful writing partners. Soon, Ron and Gerry were writing and producing hits for many different acts.

Their UK top ten hit Guilty was performed by The Pearls and was later also a hit in the US, where it was covered by Philly Soul girl group First Choice. Collaborating with Barry Blue, Ron and Gerry created the hit record Do You Wanna Dance. The trio also came up with Devil's Gun, which was covered by CJ & Co in the States and spent 32 weeks in the charts, reaching number 1 in the Disco Charts. Such was the success of this song that many years later - in 2002 - hip hop artiste Redman wanted to use the track, and together with Missy Elliot he recorded it as Dat Bitch on his gold disc Malpractice.

A collection of great songs for an album by ex-Picketty Witch lead singer Polly Brown was created with producer Phil Swern. Polly's version of Up In A Puff Of Smoke was a Stateside smash and she was named one of the top girl singers by Billboard Magazine. Other titles from this album - Special Delivery - were to generate even more covers. S.O.S was picked out by producer Richard Perry and recorded by Manhattan Transfer. Dionne Warwick's cover of Do You Believe In Love At First Sight, was used as the theme song for the Dan Akroyd film Love At First Sight and was the title of Dionne's next album, Love At First Sight.

Ron and Gerry also produced and wrote an album for Polly Brown and Tony Jackson, whom Ron had put together as a new recording act under the name Sweet Dreams. A song written by Bjorn and Benny of Abba - Honey Honey - was produced by Ron and Gerry and released by Sweet Dreams. It went top-ten in many countries. There were more covers from this album, such as Ron & Gerry's That's The Way How Love Grows, which was covered by ex-Supremes singer Jean Terrell.

The disco scene was now well underway and Ron & Gerry were working with Biddu who had produced Carl Douglas with Kung Fu Fighting. Together, Ron, Gerry & Biddu wrote Dance Little Lady Dance and Love Bug for Polly Brown. Tina Charles also recorded these songs and they became worldwide hits. Tony Hall, manager of the Real Thing, asked Ron & Gerry to produce and write a single for the band and they came up with Stone Cold Love Affair. Many other acts followed, such as ex-New Seekers lead singer Lyn Paul, Hot Cuisine and Bill Fredericks of the Drifters. Ron & Gerry decided to form their own publishing company, Geronimo Music. In 1976, following Gerry's untimely death in a car accident, Ron closed the company and went on working both in the UK and the US. Being busy helped Ron to recover from the sadness of losing his best friend.

Here are just some of the acts that have recorded Ron's songs:

Soul artists: The Drifters, Carl Douglas , Dionne Warwick, Geno Washington, The Real Thing, Jean Terrel of the Supremes, Jimmy James, First Choice, Leon Ware, Hot Cuisine, Inner City Express, Johnny Darrow Moore, BT Express, CJ & Co, Redman & Missy Elliot, The Three Degrees, Miquel Brown.

Pop & Rock artists: Jimmy Justice, Cliff Richard, The Fortunes, Blue Mink, The Shadows, Vanity Fare, Tony Head, The Tremeloes, The Rocking Berries, Tina Charles, Polly Brown, Toni Basil, Lynsey De Paul, Barry Blue, Lyn Paul of the New Seekers, Springfield Revival, Toy Dolls, The Rubinoos, Mac Kissoon, The Pearls, The Nolan Sisters.

M.O.R , Standard & Jazz artists: Petula Clark & Sacha Distel, Manhattan Transfer, Anita Kerr Singers, Sounds Bob Rogers, James Last Orchestra,The Biddu Orchestra, L.S.O, Bill Tarmey, Eve Boswell.

Reggae Artists: Desmond Dekker, The Pioneers, Count Prince Miller, Del Davis.

Ron is currently collaborating with Joe Gillingham, keyboard player with the Tremeloes. Ron and Joe have written and produced songs for the great comic, actor and writer Roy Hudd O.B.E. and other celebrities have joined in this album project too. Working with the arranger Pete Kelly, Ron is developing another new album of songs for children which is due for release later in 2008.

Voodoo Man, the disco hit Ron co-wrote with Biddu, is receiving great reviews as a dance floor hit in 2008. The song has been re-mixed for Skylax Records and has been released in many countries, including the US.

Many artists have recorded Ron's songs over the years and he continues to write and produce new works, enjoying this dynamic business in all its guises. Ron's career remains a work in progress!

 
© Ron Roker 2015