A Place for Musician's to Meet!
''FRAY'S PHOTO SITES''
''RONNIE FRAY BIOGRAPHY''
Once voted Ontario's 'Entertainer of the Year' the extremely talented entertainer RONNIE FRAY has performed throughout the United States, Canada and the Orient.
He has entertained in some of the top nightclubs of the world - such as Gilley's Bar in Pasadena,Texas..Cain's Ballroom, Tulsa Ok..Hollywood Bowl..California..Mano's Jazz, Tokyo..Antone's, Austin Tx..Lone Star Cafe, New York..Billy Bob's..Fort Worth Texas. Royal York Hotel..Toronto..Joe Namath's 'Bachelors Three' in Alabama..Campbels, London Ont. and the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas....wth Roy Clark.
He has shared a stage with other great entertainers such as Bonnie Raitt,. Greg Allman., Buck Owens,. Bobby Bare,. Delbert McClinton,. Jack Scott,. Gatemouth Brown., Alabama., Ronnie Milsap., Leon Russell,. Hank Williams Jr., Ronnie Dunn (Brooks n Dunn)..Gary Stewart,. David Alan Coe., Ms. Gus Hardin.. Gordon Lightfoot and Rompin' Ronnie Hawkins, just to name a few.
The following has been condensed from an article in the September 1992 issue of 'For The Record'..a Canadian record Collectors ‘magazine' published in Sarnia Ontario. June-1997.
Rerevised Nov. 2006
Proudly displayed on a wall of Ronnie's apartment is a picture of his grandfather, Reginald Fudge.
He played the saw, fiddle, banjo or 'anything with a bow', on Vaudeville Stages around southern Ontario..
Ron's mother 'made' records (quite literally,she pressed them) at Spartan Records Company Ltd. in London Ontario Canada. Ron's dad worked there too. "My dad played harmonica and the spoons and he could really yodel quite well too."
Ron was born in London Ontario Canada.
He used to walk to a friends house and the two of them would go to their guitar lessons from 'Edith Hill Adams' on Egerton St. His friend? Canadian singer, Tommy Hunter! Ron studied steel guitar for a few years. He and Tommy attended grade school together...Ealing Public School on Hamilton Road in East London...
His first public appearance...at age 15...was with "The Middlesex Ramblers," with Larry (Lee) Broderick of London in 1956. He played steel guitar with Vic Cole..Delmar Schloendorf and Buddy Henderson. During their rehearsals, Ron would often grab an acoustic guitar and sing some songs of the 'upstart' Elvis Presley.
His first 'paying' performance was in the Capitol Theater in Woodstock Ontario....between movies. At one of these early performances, some girls started yelling for them to do Elvis songs. Larry said, "Sure, we've got a steel guitar player here who's going to sing you some Elvis songs" and motioned for Ron to take his guitar, knees shaking....He sang "That's Alright Mama" and "Love Me Tender". He was so taken with the audience reaction, he bought an old Harmony guitar..(at Novak's Pawn Shop in London). He quit the 'Middlesex Ramblers' found some new players and formed "The Belaires" on his own. Larry Broderick went on to be ''Larry Lee and the Leasures'' and then he moved to Nashville and became a booking agent.
Then....... THE CAPERS..
RON formed his first band, "The Belaires", with Tom Leyes..Bruce Wallis..and Bob Pickle.
This band lasted about 3 or 4 years. The Capers meanwhile, were already a functioning group.
About this time, Garth Hudson (organist) Paul London (vocalist) and Gery Risser (guitarist)
left the Capers. Garth to play organ with Ronnie Hawkins' band...'The Hawks'.
Ron (along with Clay Highley) subsequently took over as lead singer and guitarist with the Capers.
They then hired Jerry Penfound who had been playing organ and sax for Ronnie Hawkins.
Ron said "we sort'a swapped keyboard/sax players."
Ron's first gig (on the road) with the Capers was in January of 1961 in Sudbury Ontario. Ron laughingly recalls..."We drove there in Tom's 1957 Ford 'convertible' with no heater and it was sooo cold....just ridiculous!" Jerry Verga of the "varjac" entertainment agency in Detroit Michigan was the main drive behind the bands eight years of continual touring.
Ron says..."Man, Jerry kept us workin' from Tokyo to Atlantic City. From Detroit to Val'dor Quebec. Youngstown Ohio to Nashville Tenn. "We had to fake an illness just to get a damn vacation." "We all loved Jerry a great deal". He was 'THE' booking agent.
RON'S first album was recorded at ''United Sound Systems''.. (next door to Mo-town records) in Detroit Michigan in April of 63. 1t was titled. "Introducing The Versatile Capers."
Four years later..... the second album "Get Caperized" was released with Michael 'Dean' Wilson on organ. RON'S third album was "The Ronnie Fray Capers" a trio with Alan 'Clark' Eakin on bass. Ron and Clay Highley were the only original Capers left. The group's name again changed to "The Reptile Band" in Grand Rapids.
He recorded his fourth album at at 'Bavarian Inn' in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Hal Beveridge on bass and vocals. Clay Highley on drums and vocals.
The fifth album, and best in my opinion, was called "Put This In Your Ear." It was recorded in 1980 in Detroit Michigan and Memphis Tenn. The songs on this album were original compositions by Ronnie..Delbert McClinton..J.J. Cale and Michael Martin Murphy.
"Delbert McClinton is my hero" says Ron. "He's the guy I most enjoy listening to and learning from." And now his son (Clay)... is taking up all my space on my c.d. player. He's really fantastic.
"J.J. Cale is another guy I really enjoy. They're both great writers."
During the 1970's, he did a lot of touring and recorded about nine singles.(45's).
Among them "She Taught Me How To Yodel" and "Road To Nomineui."
A number one hit in Japan,(Okinawa) for nine weeks!
He has appeared on several TV shows including Austin City Limits with Roy Clark and Gatemouth Brown, and The Tommy Hunter show before it was the 'Tommy Hunter' show...(Carl Smith's 'Country Hall of Fame'.)Toronto
He fronted the Gus Hardin Band on tour and on the Nashville 'After Hours' T.V. show.
Ron has performed as a band member with the likes of...The Capris..Jack Scott..Ronnie Hawkins..Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown..Ms.Gus Hardin and The Chuck 'bob' Carnes Show with the 'Dusty Chaps Band. On one occasion, while playing guitar and harmonica for Gus Hardin at the 'Hollywood Bowl' on a show with Ronnie Milsap, Ron says he looked out into the front row and saw Barbara Streisdand! "Wow..boys, we'd better be good" he said! Another occasion was in Florida, when Greg Allman found his way to the stage to jam.
Bonnie Raitt sat in with the band in St. Louis Mo. and Gerald Stewart was on drums for a few months while they backed up his brother - the Florida country rocker - 'Gary Stewart'....Playing drums with 'Stewart' later was Randy Panda..a Texas born fatback drummer who joined up with Fray and Dale Thomas in Columbus Mississippi. Randy played drums on several recordings and toured with Ron for about four years...touring all across the southern United States and also into Canada. Panda (Randy Woolery) was a solid force with the short lived trio they called..R'ale. 'Dusty' Dale Thomas played guitar and bass. Ron played bass pedals, guitar and harmonica.
VERY LIKEABLE FELLA........
Ron comes across as being rather shy, unassuming, and not at all egotistical. "I've never thought of myself at all as 'quote'...a star. "I don't have stars in my eyes...I just want to be happy and play music for people and (sometimes) even get paid for it!"
He describes his occupation as an 'entertainer' rather than 'singer' or 'musician'. (He really plays harmonica well too.) But believe me...he is all of those things. I asked why he didn't sell some of his recordings at his appearances? He said: "I don't think about it often enough. I just forget."
Well thankfully he decided to record again. Ron is still busy entertaining throughout South Western Ontario and Michigan. He plays some 'good ol' rock'n'roll, old country n' some western swing, beebop and lots of the blues and just about anything else you can think of.
Though he is basically a single act, I have yet to see him play alone! Why? Because there are so many of his peers who like to join him on stage! Fairly regular guests are...Bruce Dean, guitar...Tony 'lefty' Smith from Detroit...guitar and pedal steel. Another is Gary McCracken of Sarnia Ontario, well known for his percussion artistry as a member of Kim Mitchell's early group 'Max Webster'. He still has a few friends from 'The States' dropping in to jam with him. You never know who will be performing with him on stage but you are guaranteed to be completly entertained!
Ron finally made another recording. His first CD called "Progressively Basic".
It contains six of what Ron modestly calls ‘home grown' songs...his own compositions.
One you'll especially like is 'So Goes Another Day', a cool country song.
Also a couple of my favorites are....The Yodeling Song and '53 Buick Blooze.
Joining Ronnie on his album recorded in Sarnia and Toronto Ontario, are:
Gary McCracken...drums; Jim Lewis...bass; Al Weiss...saxophone;
Michael "Woody" Woodhull...dobro guitar; "Dusty" Dale Thomas...
electric guitar; Tony Bandoni...guitars; Dale Rivard...pedal steel guitar;
Gregg Chad and George Webber...keyboards; Billy Heater...harmony vocals.
Ron has just rereleased his 'Put this in your Ear' album on C.D...
He says "they're sellin' like warm cakes"....ha ha!
The above, written material is courtesy of Dave Wilson, publisher of "For The Records"
a Canadian Record Collector's Magazine.
Please contact Dave at this e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The C.D.'s... 'Progressively Basic' and 'Put this in your Ear' are now available for purchase.
(As are the early 'CAPERS' albums transfered to c.d.)
To get copy-s, send a cheque or money order for $15.00 each in US funds to:
161 Nelson St. #104
Sarnia Ontario Canada
OR www.risserrecords.com (Chet Risser)
The complete address is on our main page.....
Thank you very much.
YOU WANTED A LIST OF INFLUENCES IN MY LIFE AND MY MUSIC.
HERE THEY ARE......
Mr. Herbert Long (grade school history/music teacher) Edith Hill Adams (hiwian guitar teacher) Tommy Hunter (grade school bud). Then, coming later.....David Clayton Thomas (singer) Clay Highley(friend/drumer) Tom Leyes (friend/bass) Dale Thomas (guitar player) Garth Hudson (first keyboard player) Ronnie Hawkins (singer) Randy Panda (drummer). Tom Davis (drummer). and the pros....Delbert McClinton...J.J.Cale. Ray Charles...
Buck Owens...Chuck Berry....Fats Domino...Buddy Holly... Tony Bennet....Bobby Darin...George Jones..
Jimmy Reed...Frank Sinatra...Buddy Emmons...Chet Atkins...Jimmy Reed...Bobby 'Blue' Bland....Hank Williams Sr. and Jr. ...Elvis Presley.. John Prine...Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown...Leroy Parnell...Gus Hardin...
Brent Mason..Hank Garland..All the 'Big Bands'..And of coarse, my dad, Arthur J. Fradgley and my mom 'Freda' for her everyday inspirations...and my grandfather, Reginald Fudge. (he played all strings and the saw.) There are many many more ... far too numerous to mention....but, without these people in my life, I just wouldn't be!
Thank you for all your support...and 'Keep on Pickin'.....It's healthy!