Happy Days With Aussie Bassist Ron Martin

I’ve been fortunate in my life to have met some great and interesting musicians.

The bass player Ron Martin was one such impressive musician that I had the pleasure of knowing.

Ron had played with Johnny O’Keefe, Frank Ifield and a range of amazing and interesting international acts such as Shirley Bassey and Billy Eckstine.

His was an astonishing career! so I asked him if I could jam with him regularly, to which he agreed.

So every Thursday I’d go to Ron’s place and we’d play Jazz. Ron on his double bass and me on guitar playing standards and improvising over the changes.

Australian Bassist Ron Martin

He had so many stories, experience and wisdom which he shared with me.

I feel very fortunate to have known Ron.

For 10 years I jammed with Ron every Thursday and we’d talk.

I remember on one occasion Ron telling me that if someone has to wear a funny hat or have a gimmick to sell their music it’s because their music isn’t worth checking out and is best avoided.

I remember when I was living in Chicago I went into a record shop in the Loop down near Lake Shore Drive and being confronted by a poster of Prince wearing stockings, a suspender belt and high heeled shoes – to which I was mildly shocked.

Applying Ron’s advice about silly hats and gimmicks to Prince’s unusual costume, I decided to give him a very wide birth so I never got into Prince.

Photo of PRINCE, Prince performing on stage

An Invitation From Sheila E (The Basement)

A few years back a promoter friend brought Sheila E to Australia and invited me to her gig at the Basement so I went out of interest.

I didn’t know much about Sheila E although I knew her name. I asked Jeff about her and he told me that she’d played with a lot of big names and one he mentioned was Santana.

I’d followed Santana quite closely but I didn’t know that.

Sheila E and Prince

Jeff told me that her uncle was Coke Escovedo who was a regular member of Santana, so that explains the “E”.

Jeff went on to tell me that Sheila E had also played with Prince and that the band that I was about to see at the Basement was Prince’s backing band…so Prince minus Prince.

They were superb and Im so so glad that I went!

I got to meet Sheila E but for me the highlight of the night was being introduced to the Peterson brothers Rick & Paul.

Peterson Brothers Rick And Paul

Paul was Prince’s regular bass player but he’d played with an astonishing list of acts as his brother, on keyboard, Rick’s CV boasts names like George Benson, Fleetwood Mac, David Sanborn as well as Prince.

I got to hang out with them and they were the nicest people, so interesting to talk with…just a pleasure.

The picture they gave me of Prince was one of creative genius who was an inspiration to be around.

I became curious about Prince so I began to investigate and found a lot of interesting stuff like one of his songwriting techniques.

I read where Prince would play “Beach Boys” recordings in one room, close the door and play along with what he could make of the indistinct and muffled sounds from the next room and there was Prince’s next composition.

I learnt that Prince was a Jehovah Witness which I found surprising but one of the most impressive anecdotes that I came across came from one of Australia’s great Jazz musicians Paul Grabowsky.

Aussie Jazz Great Paul Grabowsky

When Prince died the ABC interviewed Paul Grabowsky because he was a great aficionado of Prince, which I also found surprising.

Grabowsky recounted how when Prince played in Melbourne word went around at the end of the concert that Prince was going to play a second impromptu show at Bennett’s Lane which was Melbourne’s “Jazz Boit”.

He went on to say that at the earlier concert Prince sang and performed his hits doing an exhausting 2 hour show, then went to Bennett’s Lane and basically did an instrumental Jazz Fusion show that showcased his improvising prowess.

Considering all this I became curious about Prince and the best way to explore a musicians is to learn their music, so that’s why I made my arrangement of “Diamonds & Pearls”.

Have a look at the tab & have fun learning it!

Steve