Promoter, agent, manager

The contributions to the Australian rock scene made by the late Ron Blackmore have been sadly overlooked and there is little information about his career. Ron began his career as a vocalist with Melbourne band The Roulettes in the late 1950s with his brother Phil (who played keyboards and guitar). Phil continued to work as a musician and was a long-serving member of Normie Rowe's backing group The Playboys, but Ron moved into artist management and promotion in the early 1960s. His first major success came in 1964 with singing duo Bobby & Laurie, one of the first local "beat' acts to break into the Australian charts, and he also managed the shortlived but very successful pop trio MPD Ltd.

In 1965 Ron played a major role in breaking The Easybeats in Melbourne. While visiting Sydney with Bobby & Laurie early in 1965, Ron was collared by Easybeats manager Mike Vaughan outside the 2UW studios and persuaded to come and listen to the group. Blackmore was knocked out by the young band and immediately recommended that they visit Melbourne, where, he said, there were literally hundreds of dances being run every Saturday night. Blackmore generously loaned the destitute band £150 to get them there -- at that stage they were so broke that they had to hide their gear to save it from repossession. Vaughan traded in his prized Jaguar to buy a station wagon, and they headed to Melbourne for their first visit in March 1965. Fortunately, Ron Blackmore had prepared well and by the time the Easys arrived, they had over £1000 worth of bookings, with up to five gigs per night.

In 1968 Ron was the tour manager for the infamous Who/Small Faces/Paul Jones tour, which was later dubbed the "Fortnight of Furore". Ron had to handle a wave of public and media cricism over the behaviour of the tour party, which began at the Sydney Airport press conference, when Small Faces keyboard player Ian McLagen told a journalist to "fuck off" after being quizzed about his recent UK drug arrest; the problems climxed with a widely reported incident on a domestic flight which resulted in the party being escorted from the plane under guard. Ron also had to deal with Pete Townshend's renowned habit of smashing guitars on stage at each performance:

Ron Blackmore: "I was out there trying to find guitars every day from guitar shops. I’d loosen the neck and try to get it ready, and hope that Pete could just drop it so that it fell in half, and didn’t smash it completely, becuse we couldn’t replace the bits."

In the 1970s Ron became a director of the Paul Dainty Corporation, and was director of most of the major international tours that Dainty brought to Australia in that period, including The Bee Gees, Cat Stevens, Yes and Lou Reed. Ron often had to deal with criticism generated by these tours, including widespread complaints about the record ticket prices for Stevens' 1972 tour and the controversy over Reed's apparent drug problems and the cancellation of the last shows of his 1975 Australasian tour. Reed obliquely referred to this period when interviewed by Age journalist Michael Dwyer during his 2003 Australian tour:

Ask the long-sober 61-year-old about sliding down the microphone stand unconscious on his first Australian tour of ’74, for instance, and he may prefer to leave the room than speculate on something unpleasant that he can’t even remember.

"Although I will say one thing," he volunteered at our last meeting. "Once, when I was in a lot of trouble, it was an Australian named Ron Blackmore, who was a promoter at the time, who helped me out. And I will never be able to thank Ron Blackmore enough."

He declined to elaborate.

Ron was also instrumental in Dainty's acquistion of the legendary Clair Brothers PA system, which it used for its international tours for several years in the mid-1970s. The Clair system had been designed and brought to Australia by JANDS founder Bruce Jackson for the 1973 Australian tour by Blood, Sweat and Tears and at the end of the tour Clair left the system in Australia in JANDS care, to be used for a forthcoming Johnny Cash/Carter Family tour.

After leaving Dainty, Blackmore founded his own company, Artists Concert Tours (ACT). In 1982 former competitors JANDS and ACT merged to form a new company, ACT/JANDS, with offices in Sydney and Melbourne, and in 1985 ACT was purchased by JANDS. In 1979, Artist Concert Tours formed an association with Bronco Sound in Sydney, owned by Peter Ratcliffe, a partner of veteran sound man Colin Baldwin.

Ron died sometime in the late 1990s but exact details are yet to be located.

References / Links

Glenn A. Baker
liner notes to Easybeats Abolsute Anthology (LP version) EMI, 1982

Michael Dwyer
"Reed between the lines", The Age, 5 September 2003

Ian McFarlane
Encyclopedia of Australian Rock & Pop (Allen & Unwin, 1999)

Noel NcGrath
Australian Encyclopedia of Rock (Outback Press, 1978)

Jands Production Services - History

Lou Reed Forum

Pete's Equipment: Smashed Guitars