An Interview with Ron Kaplan (5/7/2002 & 2/14/2003)

> When did you replace Dennis Conroy / Tom Donlinger as The Cryan' Shames 1970?
Ron: I replaced Denny very late in 1969 or early 1970. I played the last six months with the original band and was surprised when they started talking about breaking up. Being the newest member, I got along with everyone and couldn't understand why they wanted to end such a good thing, but I understood that they had been playing together for several years and wanted to go in different directions.

> You did the wild Goose Tour with The Cryan' Shames, would you tell us about it...also, what time period was involved - 1970's?
Ron: It was late summer 1970. The band had broken up but Dex Card asked the band if they would like to play a mini tour of his Wild Goose clubs, so we got back together after a few months off, this time with Jim Fairs on guitar instead of Dave Carter. We rehearsed for several days and learned some new material because some of the band members decided it would be better not to play the older Shames songs.(Another really bad idea.) A great group from Canada named Bush,featuring guitarist Dominic Triano, opened for us.

> What bands were you with before the Shames?
Ron: Just prior to the Shames I worked with Four Days and a Night. I became friendly with the Shames, especially Isaac (Guillory) who lived fairly close to me, in the summer of 1969 when Four Days and a Night opened the show for the Shames on several dates. I still remember getting the call from Isaac in the fall of 1969 asking me if I wanted to play with the Shames. I felt like I had won the lottery.

> What bands were you with after the Shames?
Ron: The main bands that I played with after the Shames would be Jumbo - a 16 piece rock band featuring jazz saxophonist Bunky Green - Streetplayer, Redwood Landing, the Ides' Shames Union (very briefly), The Dick Eastman Band and the Corky Siegel Band.

> What are you presently doing with music?
Ron: I began a project with some friends of mine in Chicago about 18 months ago and originally traveled to Chicago to do some recording. I discovered that I could do most of the same work without leaving home and set up a studio in my house. I'm able to exchange music files,either over the internet or through the mail, and add my drum parts without actually getting together with the other musicians in the same studio. I'm still working with the musicians who live in Chicago but the work has expanded to included other musicians I've met through an on-line community, even one who lives in Australia.

> Who influenced you the most?
Ron: When I was in high school I used to be in awe of Ronnie Karpman, the drummer for the Flock; Billy Herman, who played with the Exceptions (their bass player was Peter Cetera); and Carmine Appice from the Vanilla Fudge. As I became a better drummer my influences changed and I developed an interest in different styles of music. I found myself admiring the drummers that were not necessarily the flashiest but instead were the most musical. One of my all time faves would be Hal Blaine, a studio drummer who played on hundreds of top ten recordings, but isn't well known by the general public.

> How did you get the nick name "Rent A Drummer"?
Ron: You can thank Toad for the name rentadrummer. When I played with the Shames they were a corporation and the members got a weekly salary. It didn't make sense for me to join the corporation and instead they used to pay me for each job. I became the rentadrummer. I even had T shirts printed that said that. Now that I'm doing studio work for hire I thought it was time to resurrect the name.

> Do you have any hobbies?
Ron: Lately, any free time I have is spent in the studio trying to complete various projects.

> Were you with the 1982 Cryan' Shames reunion?...I think it was at Navy Pier...we have a picture of Isaac from here on his web site ( It gave Vicki Guillory quite a start when she first saw it as it brought back memories of when they first met.
Ron: Yes, I played at the reunion and also e-mailed several photos of mine from the event to Hooke last year (2001).

> Did you perform at any other reunions with the Shames?
Ron: The only two that I know about were the Wild Goose dates in 1970 and Chicagofest in 1982, and I played at both of them. We also played a date at a club on Golf Road (Mc Greevy's?) when we were rehearsing for Chicagofest.

> Any trivia or interesting stories would be great...also band pics. We have a "Members Section" which contains a brief synopsis of the past and present band members on the Shames web site.

> Ron: No pics except for the Wild Goose and Chicagofest, but here's a bizarre story: Shortly after I joined the band we were asked to record a McCleans toothpaste commercial. We flew to New York for a session but when we got there Toad began having throat problems so Dave sang on the commercial. I remember the lyrics went something like:
Get a taste of whiteness
Get a taste of now
Get a taste of brightness
Get a taste of wow, wow, wow,
With McCleans.

Very sophisticated stuff!
The first time I heard the commercial I was driving my car on the Eisenhower expressway and was so excited I thought I might have to pull off the road. Hey, it was my one and only recording with the Shames! The commercial was played on TV every week during the Mod Squad. Also, while we were in the studio, Cassius Clay (this was before he became Mohammed Ali) came into the studio to record an interview and we had a chance to meet him.

Classic Cryan Shames Pics

1970 Wild Goose Tour

Interview Index

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