Junos 2023: From Coaldale farm to working with Garth Brooks, promoter Ron Sakamoto to be celebrated at Junos



All of it started for Ron Sakamoto when he was recovering from a hockey harm in a hospital mattress in Drugs Hat.

The long run music promoter was harm whereas enjoying for the Drugs Hat Blades within the Alberta Junior Hockey League, which led him to the conclusion {that a} profession on ice wasn’t going to be within the playing cards. It wasn’t lengthy earlier than he had his first eureka second.

“After I was within the hospital, I noticed American Bandstand and all the fellows and ladies dancing and having a good time,” says Sakamoto. “I believed ‘Wow – that’s what we want. We want a membership for the children to go to.’ That sparked my curiosity. Lots of people thought I used to be loopy. However I borrowed cash from my mother and pa. They helped me. The mayor of Drugs Hat, Harry Veiner, helped me as a result of he needed one thing for the children to do moreover drive across the block on Friday and Saturday nights.”

In 1964, he opened Honeycomb A Go Go in Drugs Hat, which was sufficient of successful for him to rapidly observe with The Ron Sakamoto Varsity Membership in Lethbridge. A pure enterprise acumen kicked in early as he set about reserving acts for the venues.

“I may rent one band and have them play Lethbridge Friday and Drugs Hat on Saturday and the opposite band would play Drugs Hat Friday and Lethbridge Saturday and get the bands cheaper as a result of I may supply them two dates as a substitute of 1,” he says. “That’s why I moved to Lethbridge.”

The bands obtained larger and dearer. So, by 1968, Sakamoto based Gold & Gold Productions Ltd., which allowed him to e book bands in auditoriums and arenas throughout the nation. In 1973, he was the primary promoter to deliver KISS into Canada. He was the primary to usher in the Doobie Brothers.

However Sakamoto, who turned 80 earlier this month, laughs when requested if he anticipated to at some point be working with a few of the greatest musical acts on the planet. He admits he had no long-term plan at first.

“I’ve obtained to let you know, I used to be flying by the seat of my pants,” he says. “There was no sport plan. You needed to study by doing it again then. There have been no colleges. The one college you had was the college of laborious knocks. You went out and did it. At the moment, there was no Ticketmaster. You needed to do all the things your self. You needed to e book the act, print the posters, print the tickets, go to the music shops to see if they’d promote them for you, do the promoting and promote the present. That day, you’d choose the tickets up, go to the venue, and rent ticket sellers and safety and stagehands. You probably did all of it your self. I did all of the accounting, paid the bands after which onto the following present. It was very robust. That’s why folks mentioned ‘You may’t do that! You simply can’t.’ Coming from Lethbridge, (folks would say) you need to go to Toronto or Vancouver or New York if you wish to be massive and get these artists. I might say ‘Properly, why? Why can’t I do it from Lethbridge? It’s the identical as Calgary or anyplace else? It’s all carried out by phone.’ That’s how I began.”

On Saturday, Sakamoto can be acknowledged for 60 years of labor behind the scenes when

The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS)

presents the Walt Grealis Particular Achievement Award on the opening night time of the 2023 Juno Awards previous to the televised ceremony on Monday.

Named after Grealis, a writer who based the Junos with Stan Klees, the award has been introduced to Denise Jones, Denise Dolan and Larry LeBlanc prior to now in recognition of labor that has helped the Canadian music business develop.

Through the years, Sakamoto has labored with many massive names equivalent to

The Guess Who, Bryan Adams, The Bee Gees, Garth Brooks and Keith City. He was the promoter behind Shania Twain’s first tour in 1998. In 2013, he opened Sakamoto Company with Paul Biro. Final yr, the company launched the file label Sakamoto Music.

“I did rock, I did nation, I did skating reveals, I did monster vans,” he says. “I did the entire gamut. Yeah, they do have totally different personalities however, on the finish of the day, they’re all entertainers. So long as it’s a superb present and so they do a superb present for the individuals who paid their hard-earned (cash) and so they stroll out of there comfortable, that’s all that counts.”

He helped the early careers of City, Johnny Reid and Twain’s “first 100 reveals.”

“There are such a lot of,” he says. “At the moment, it was nice to see these artists explode and begin to grow to be stars. On the finish of the day, that’s all that counts: You assist them alongside the way in which as a lot as you’ll be able to and attempt to make their careers as profitable as you’ll be able to.”

Sakamoto was born and raised in Coaldale the place his mother and father had a farm. Whereas he was a gifted hockey participant as a child, he was additionally into music. He began enjoying guitar and singing when he was 9. He performed in bands.

“I’d hearken to the radio,” he says. “I used to sing on the tractor as a result of it was so boring. There was nothing else to do on a tractor. That’s how I spent my days after I was engaged on the farm and dealing with my dad on the weekend.”

Sakamoto’s mother and father have been born in Canada. His father owned a retailer in Vancouver however through the Second World Warfare, they have been relocated to Coaldale and interned.

“They labored laborious after the warfare after they obtained all the things taken away from them,” Sakamoto says. “My dad owned a retailer, he wasn’t a farmer. He obtained all the things taken away and so they have been placed on the farm.”

Sakamoto’s recommendation to budding entrepreneurs is straightforward: encompass your self with a superb group and do what you like.

“If you’re beginning out as a younger entrepreneur, you wish to be sure you actually, actually love what you wish to do and be sure you don’t have any what-ifs in your life,” he says.

Ron Sakamoto can be given the Walt Grealis Particular Achievement Award through the Juno Opening Evening Awards on the Edmonton Conference Centre on Saturday, March 11.  Juno Awards ceremony takes place in Edmonton on March 13.

Copyright Postmedia Community Inc., 2023

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