AN INTERVIEW WITH RON HAMRICK
ARTIST’S HOUSE: Who is Ron Hamrick?
RON HAMRICK: First and foremost, I am a songwriter, and I have been for many, many years. My first songwriting inspirations were John Lennon and Paul McCartney, after I saw The Beatles perform on television in 1964. Their songs were very different than anything on the air waves at that time, and I liked the songs as well as the idea of what they had done very much. Plus, it was thrilling to watch the audience react to their songs. While I had already been involved with music for 10 years prior to that, I had never really thought about writing songs until then. It wasn’t long at all before I had formed a band, doing cover songs and starting to explore my own songwriting abilities. A couple years later, I joined a new band called The Sixth Generation.
One of the other members and I co-wrote a song called “This Is the Time” that became a number one hit in the upper Midwest in 1967. It was spectacular to hear something I had created being played on the super stations out of Chicago, Detroit, and Windsor, as well as many smaller stations all over the region. The band actually became quite famous in the area because of that song. I’m very proud that it was eventually named as a Legendary Song by the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame. I suppose that early success is what sparked my desire to keep writing songs. I started reading everything I could get my hands on about songwriting. Although I had to leave the band when I went away to college, I kept writing songs, even though I never published any of them. The same is true when I went into the working world.
I eventually became the CEO of a large international company, and during the many years I served in that capacity, I kept writing. I think it was more like mind therapy during those years, to relieve stress after tough workdays. (A while back, my daughter discovered a huge pile of songs I had written tucked away in a box in our basement, so there must have been a lot of stress. )
As I was starting to think about retirement from the working world, my old band, The Sixth Generation, was prompted by family and fans from the old days to get back together for a reunion, which we did in 2010. I wrote a song called “That Was the Time” for the occasion. The reunion went over so well that we decided to start recording and touring again. “That Was the Time” almost instantly became a hit across the world. I wrote several hits for the band over the next six years, including the song “Livin’ In a Small Town” that became a number two hit on Billboard, and a song called “Touch the Moon” from one of our albums that was actually considered for a Grammy nomination. The other band members decided to retire in 2016, but I have continued as a singer/songwriter. Since then, I have released 12 singles and two albums on my own.
ARTIST’S HOUSE: When did your journey with music begin?
RON HAMRICK: I have an aunt who got me interested in music when I was five years old. She taught me how to play guitar. My grandparents also had a piano in their living room at that time. At my aunt’s and my parents’ encouragement, I started playing it, and I fell in love with keys. Shortly after that, my parents bought me an organ, and I started taking lessons. For the next ten years, I studied Classical music.
ARTIST’S HOUSE: What inspires you?
RON HAMRICK: I guess the best answer to that is everyday life. I see and hear things all the time that inspire new songs. Ideas can hit me pretty much any time – a topic for a song, a lyric line, a melody fragment, an interesting chord progression, etc. For example, not too long ago, I was driving down a country road and a 200-year-old house inspired me to write a song about it. When the ideas occur, I put them into my phone so I can retrieve them when I sit down to write.
I stick to positive topics in the songs I write. You won’t ever see me write a song with negative vibes, such as breakup, rebellion jadedness, desperation, etc. There are more than enough bad things that happen in the world, and I don’t have any desire to propagate them in a song. Love, nostalgia, happiness, having a good time, etc. are some of the topics I write about. I did once write a song about loss, but even so, I put a positive spin on it. The song was called “Dance on the Wind”, and I wrote it for an old friend who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She appreciated it beyond words in her dying days, and I myself found solace in it when my dad died a short while later.
ARTIST’S HOUSE: Which song did you write the best and why?
RON HAMRICK: This is a tough question to answer because I try to do a good job on all the songs I write – a topic that a broad audience can relate to, well-written lyrics, a good hook, a melody that sticks in your head, a solid song structure, etc. I take pride in all my songwriting, and I know all of my songs are liked by people around the world, because they stream and download every new song I release in fairly substantial quantities.
It would be easy for me to answer this question saying “This Is the Time” because it was named as a Legendary Song by the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame, “That Was the Time” because it became a Baby Boomer anthem across the world, “Livin’ In a Small Town” because it made it to number two on Billboard, or “Touch the Moon” because it caught the attention of the Grammy nominating committee. But, I guess the best way for me to answer this is, I think the best song is whichever one I wrote last. It holds the most hope for becoming wildly popular, and that’s a very satisfying feeling. Currently, it’s a patriotic song I just finished and will be recording soon called “This Is America”.
ARTIST’S HOUSE: Do you think everyone can be a musician?
RON HAMRICK: I think everyone can be a musician, but not necessarily a good musician. Some people are very fortunate to be musically gifted. Others, not so much, but I do believe that skills can be cultivated. I think even people who say they have no knack for music at all can achieve surprising results, if they want to, and if they believe that they can.
ARTIST’S HOUSE: How do you connect with your fans?
RON HAMRICK: I regularly do live performances, and I love doing them because I can directly see peoples’ reactions, and I can talk with them one on one before and after a show. I use my website www.ronhamrick.com and social media; mostly Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to let fans know about new songs and performances. I utilize YouTube to an extent also, but I think YouTube is the biggest rip-off in the history of published music, so I don’t put all of my songs on it. When you put up a YouTube video, you are basically giving away music for free – YouTube does not pay any royalties to songwriters or artists, but it has become the #1 go-to source for music. It’s very easy for someone to rip an mp3 from a YouTube video so there’s no need for them to pay for it on iTunes, Amazon, etc. The only way for the songwriter/artist to make any money from a YouTube video is to allow YouTube to run ads with it, and the songwriter/artist then receives a very, very small fraction of the revenue YouTube receives from the advertisers.
I also connect directly with super fans via email or direct messages to keep in touch, and I often send a new song or two to them for the support they give me in telling others about my songs. The most important thing I do though to connect with fans happens on www.926TheBlitz.com radio. I always provide my songs to the station prior to release, and those pre-release plays on Tom Slick’s Morning Brew Show act as a catalyst to spark sales on the major streaming and download services around the world when the song becomes available.
ARTIST’S HOUSE: Your favorite food?
RON HAMRICK: I guess there are not too many foods I don’t like. I truly enjoy eating a meal at a really good French or Italian restaurant. I also love a good burger. (I’ve been on a quest for many years to find the best burgers in the world.) And then there’s my good ol’ standby, pizza! Love ‘em, especially Chicago style!
ARTIST’S HOUSE: Your biggest dream?
RON HAMRICK: I’m living the dream right now. I’ve had a very successful business career, and I’ve traveled all over the world. I have a wonderful wife I’ve been married to for 48 years, I have two very talented and successful kids, who are starting to think about raising a family of their own, and I write music that people really like. It seems the more songs I write and release, the more all of my songs get streamed and downloaded. I’m connecting with new fans every day, and I love that feeling. I don’t expect to become a super star or anything like that. If I write a song that makes someone’s day brighter, that makes me very satisfied.
ARTIST’S HOUSE: Your plans for the future?
RON HAMRICK: As usual, I have multiple projects underway. I’ve been spreading my wings a bit lately, writing songs in different genres. I’ve always written rock and pop songs, but lately I released a couple country songs that have also done extremely well, and I’ve got more in the works. This month I’m releasing a Show Tune – the kind of song you would hear in a musical, and the initial feedback I’ve been getting on it is fantastic. My son actually sang the song for the recording, a fact of which I am very proud. In fact, my daughter is featured on flute in one of the songs on my new EP. Wait until you hear her! She is an amazing flutist. I also just finished a patriotic song called “This Is America” that I’ll be recording soon, and releasing prior to July 4. Meanwhile, I’ve got a couple pop songs in the works, I’m writing a song for a fantastic female singer, and I’m going back to my roots, writing a Classical piece in the Baroque style. It was also recently suggested to me that I should write more story songs. I’ve actually written a number of them over the years. The song critic who suggested I write more of them actually compared me to Willie Nelson, so I imagine I’ll turn some attention on that sometime soon. As I often tell my wife, “There’s always a new song floating around in my head.”
Check out more about Ron and his music at www.ronhamrick.com