Ron Kane: 1958-2017 [part 2]

Ron ca. 1983 during one of his regular trips to New Zealand

Ron was a guy I met due to the pleasures of meeting another long-standing friend of mine in 1985. Someone who did live in my city, so I quickly became fast friends with Mr. Brian Ware. Brian caught my classified ad in the local college newspaper looking for people to trade interesting music video [“No HM. No rock”] and we soon discovered that we burned bright torches for many of the same bands [XTC, Ultravox, Simple Minds, Icehouse…etc.] so we became fast friends. Mr. Ware was probably the pre-eminent Split Enz collector in the Southeast United States, if not the country as a whole.  Where did he get those obscure records from the Southern Hemisphere? From Mr. Kane.

At the time, Ron was working as an importer of records at ANZ Imports [Australia/New Zealand] . I remember seeing their ad in Trouser Press classifieds touting the “original NZ Split Enz imports” available basically through them and only them and I suspect that Mr. Ware, being of a much stouter Split Enz disposition, wasted no time in dropping them a line. So when I came into Mr. Ware’s sphere of influence, he simply said to me “you have to meet this guy!” Well, not so much meet him, because 3000+ miles separated me from Ron’s native Long Beach.

What happened was we corresponded, regularly, I might add. Like Ron, I was also a “βeta guy” who used the original home video mass market format and music videos were a definite focus of these years. We would trade video lists and I would try to see if I could ever get something that Ron, with his bank of VCRs and a satellite dish, somehow missed. In the meantime, Ron would shower his friends with lots of videos of things you could not see for love nor money in that pre-internet era. Late that year I recall Ron doing something about all of the amazing PAL/SECAM video he had accumulated from his worldwide contacts. Normal schmoes like myself could not play this stuff on garden variety NTSC equipment, so Ron had access to people who could dupe tapes and make a system transfer and Ron pooled his buddies to shoulder the costs, so for the $50 investment, a half dozen of his friends got a three hour compilation from foreign video sources of things you simply could not see otherwise. I finally saw John Foxx video; a personal holy grail, for the first time due to this little project. And Ron knew what his friends liked; he compiled the tape so that everyone got their interested fed.

Ron had hundreds of videotapes by 1985. I had just moved to my second video deck after wearing out my first unit in about three years. I now had a βeta Hi-Fi stereo deck with amazing audio quality. I might have had abut 80 tapes with music videos and I had to go to a friend’s house [chasinvictoria] who was also a βeta guy to dupe the clips for that first tape I sent back to Ron. In this way, chasinvictoria learned of Ron “The Man” Kane as I was wont to call him.  Ron got quite a reputation amongst my friends for providing amazing videos that we all watched.

Not long after meeting Mr. Ware [and by extension, Ron] he planned to take a vacation out to L.A. and finally meet Ron. He returned with tales of a house filled with records. Ron took Brian on a record crawl of all the usual haunts, and he got a good look at how a serious record collector rolls. Mr. Ware returned to Orlando with his horizons fatally broadened.

Strangely concurrent with this mid-80s period was my [dramatic] re-assessment of master entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr. Wouldn’t you know but Ron was completely into all things Sammy. For several years there, we would exchange videos of Sammy TV appearances and the like with me able to give Ron a surprising number of Sammy TV show guest spots from the 6os mostly. This Sammy worship peaked while dutifully recording a Johnny Carson appearance of Sammy [no last name necessary] one night in late 1985 when we first got wind of his tour dates taking him to Ruth Eckerd Hall in nearby St. Petersburg. Fully wigged out, this culminated in the 1986 sojourn of my friends and I to see the man, the myth, the motion picture. For his part, Ron was a Vegas guy.” So much so, that he had a habit of spending Christmas in Vegas wth his wife as they soaked up the ambience of sad desperation that only shuttle busses of retirees spending their social security checks could provide.

Ron Kane on The Strip

Next: …Francophilia facilitated

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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11 Responses to Ron Kane: 1958-2017 [part 2]

  1. Steve says:

    My condolences, PPM. From what I’ve read so far, Ron seemed like an incredible person to know…

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  2. Gavin says:

    Condolences from me too.
    That pic of Ron in Vegas is simply epic.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Gavin – Well, as epic anyone can be in Las Vegas! Having been there twice in adulthood, I really don’t recommend it. It’s like all of America’s worst traits concentrated into a drug whose usage will always lead to a fatal overdose.

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  3. Tim says:

    That’s an absolutely great story & a wonderful little piece of oral history about not only your friend but the early days of video and what you could see and what you couldn’t.

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  4. Mr. Ware says:

    Well, along with Mr. Monk, no other individual has had a more profound impact on my music life than Ron Kane. There are two kinds of music collectors, the hoarders and the sharers. No one was more gracious and generous than Ron. Witnessing the “Ron Kane Experience” for over 30 years has also provided fascinating self examination as to the nature of music collecting obsessions. Mr. Monk often refers to “collectors sickness”, particularly with what he calls his core collections. Ron Kane took this to an realm that boggled the mind. With over 30,000 pieces in his collection, he admitted he had more music than he could ever listen to within his lifetime.

    I may be getting ahead of Mr. Monk here, as I’m pretty sure he plans to touch on this part of Ron’s personality,

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Mr. Ware – All in due time! Like I said, I was a big fish in a small pond. I usually had more music than anyone else in the room. Ron was a big fish in Los Angeles! He easily had 10x what I have. Actually, I have no idea how many titles I have in the Record Cell but estimate about 3000? One day when I have a week off I will enter everything into the Discogs collection. Does anyone have a week’s wages to front me for this? What… No takers?!

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      • Tim says:

        I’m in your league well I was, and like the late Mr Kane realized that I could start listening to everything now and probably not have time to listen to it all in my lifetime. About a decade ago I culled probably 75% of the collection back when people still bought physical music, even used before the ubiquity of file lockers, and I made many many people happy setting them up with things that they had been searching high and low for even with the use of the internet.

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  5. Brian says:

    I’m fascinated by your friend and this video exchange. Would have loved to be a part of that. There just weren’t characters like him in my corner of the world where I grew up. Looking forward to your next installment. Quite a moving tribute.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Brian -Technically Ron wasn’t in my corner of the world either, but 3000+ miles away. Right in the middle of the music industry. But Ron could not be easily contained by geographic barriers.

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