Friday, July 31, 2015

Artist Musician Ron Artis

At least half the time I google someone from my past they are passed away, this was no exception. My exploration started after watching The Wrecking Crew documentary. Gold Star Studios in 1981 was no longer the powerhouse it had been in the previous 3 decades where hundreds of hits were recorded so they would rent studio time to anyone. I think overnight was $90 an hour.

Living in North Hollywood my next door neighbor in '81 was Ron Artis who was in Shalamar, one of those late-70s LA bands that had like 14 members, they had a soul hit but shed members every album like my cat sheds hair. Or so he said, he may have just done a session for them, he a world class bullshitter. As you do. Ron would have Taka Boom over to his home to record, I met her there, he was really serious and passionate about music - jazz, rock, new wave, soul. He turned me on to Millie Jackson. You couldn't help but come under his sway, he connected in a way few can. The guy on the corner who owned a pizza parlor (best slices I ever tasted) was really impressed with Ron, wanted him to record an album and offered to pay for studio time at Gold Star, late night hours. 

Susan and I went to visit that first night. He invited everyone to come by the studio which I thought was strange, how would anything get done but whatever. When we arrived after midnight cocaine was flowing and Ron was teaching some kid, on studio time, to play a guitar. Not play the song... he was teaching basic fundamentals of how to play a guitar! Needless to say nothing came of those sessions. 

In 1994 I was wandering around Beverly Hills when I came across a shop that had just closed, I believe it was Ron Artiz Studio Gallery where they offered original air brush t-shirt designs. I wondered if it was the same guy, that he once again found someone to get behind his big dreams. It was.

Not long after that Ron moved to Hawaii, becoming famous there as an artist, especially popular in the Haleiwa surfing community. A really exceptional muralist and a brilliant pianist and composer with a large discography, much of it recorded with his kids. (He had 11 children which surprises me not a bit, the ladies loved him.) When I knew him he had a wife and two lovely kids Susan and I felt close to who separated from him during the year we lived there. Ron was wrong wrong wrong but Ron was Ron Ron Ron.

He died in 2010, an exciting, gifted fellow living to the fullest who possessed the talent and the chops to back up his grandiose schemes. Played the game like a champ and ultimately won. That's the Ron Artis I wish I'd known...