Rockin for Ronnie: A Tribute to Ron Alphabet Honors a South Australian Music Legend

“Rockin for Ronnie: A Tribute to Ron Alphabet” was a great event for local music lovers as well as for those who wanted to give respect to a local music legend. The event,  on the 25th of May, was held at the Port Club in Albertson, SA. Mick Rajan, the manager for Beatles tribute band Let It Be, discussed the event and the work it took to make this awesome night a reality.

Ron Alphabet is part of South Australia’s music history. “Ron Alphabet was associated with the local music industry and was significant in the 1970s when he booked all the bands for the famous Largs Pier Hotel, situated in the western suburbs of Adelaide,” said Rajan. “In the ‘70s this was one of the best live music venues in Australia and it is one of the first places Cold Chisel were first given the opportunity to perform and we all know the history of Cold Chisel.”

Alphabet’s health led to the creation of the event. “Late last year Ron was diagnosed with lung cancer and the outcome was not favourable,” said Rajan. “Ron had some financial concerns and was concerned about leaving the burden to his 22-year-old daughters to cover his funeral costs; this is where a number of his mates stepped in.”

“John Swan (Swanee) and a couple of friends had decided that a show with a number of different live acts would be the perfect way to not only pay tribute to Ron but also a way to contribute to Ron’s final wishes,” he said. “Due to Ron’s physical condition we decided the show needed to go ahead as soon as possible. Having known Ron for about 25 years and being the manager of Let It Be and also having experience at running events, I decided to assist John in making the event happen and to keep all the logistics of such an event on course given the time frame of the show. On May 2nd we confirmed a date and 23 days later we held the show.”

The show was advertised to music fans, old and young, in a variety of ways. “Mainly we advertised on social media, namely Facebook. We had eight different acts on the bill and all these acts have Facebook pages as well as their own personal pages. Word of mouth throughout the local area also worked well for us,” said Rajan. “Ron was well known and loved throughout the Port Adelaide area which in itself is a small community. We wanted to minimise the outgoing costs in order to maximise the funds we would donate to Ron. This approach is not something that I would generally do but given the emotional attachment to such a show it was pretty easy to sell the tickets.”

The event was stellar. “The event was a success. We had over 500 music lovers at the event. For an event that was thrown together at such short notice to get over 500 people was outstanding,” he said. “Everyone involved, from the Port Adelaide Football Club, the production guys, volunteers, the bands and the fans themselves, we couldn’t have asked for a better outcome. Unfortunately Ron passed away on May 15 and wasn’t there but he would have approved of the outcome.”

“The best part for me from an organisational point of view was the total co-operation of all involved,” he said. “Sioban Banner, David Banner and staff from the Port Adelaide Football Club were sensational. They provided the room, the security and sold the tickets for us and made that part of the event seamless. The production crews made sure all was in place and kept to a tight schedule in order to run on time. The bands were awesome and made the event a success. We had eight bands–Swanee, Vince Contarino (Zep Boys), Let It Be Beatles, David Blight & The Flyers, Hoy Hoy, East, IRIS and Sweet Anarchy.”

“We had 23 days to plan and hold the event and a number of things had to come together pretty quick,” he said. “The final result was the success we had in being able to pay for Ron’s funeral which was the ultimate goal for us all.”

Are you planning an event similar to this one? Rajan said that starting early is paramount. “Give yourself more lead time. 23 days was crazy but it worked in this case,” he said. “In general have a detailed timeline of your event and the duties that need to be fulfilled. I’m usually planning events 4-5 months ahead of the date but from about 12 weeks I start to promote the event and increase the awareness of the event. I try to delegate different roles to people associated with the event, production crew, advertising, promotional stuff, etc., but I keep a general eye on all aspects.”