Gary James' Interview With
Ron Dante

As a singer, writer and producer, Ron Dante has achieved the sort of recognition that most people dream about. For example, Ron Dante wrote, produced and sang "Sugar, Sugar", a record which to date has racked up sales of over 20 million. As a producer of assorted artists including Barry Manilow, Pat Benatar and Irene Cara, Ron Dante has been responsible for the sale of an additional 30 million records.

Q - Ron, have you ever had the desire to produce a heavy metal group?

A - No, not really. Only because they're so self-contained they almost produce themselves. The only thing I've really wanted to produce would be like The Rolling Stones or maybe an individual superstar rocker like Bruce Springsteen.

Q - Is the role of the producer disappearing as these groups gain more control in the studio?

A - I think the producer's role has been reinforced over the last ten years, where they have played a more important role in the production of people. I don't think it's a big swing towards self-production. The producer of a record is very much like the director of a film. When you say "cut", everybody looks to him to see if everything is going down right.

Q - What you think of Stars On 45 version of "Sugar, Sugar"?

A - I loved it. I thought it was great. They copped my voice wonderfully. I was really proud that "Sugar, Sugar" was at the beginning of that medley. It was a real kick to hear something I'd done be reproduced that well. I wish I'd gotten a royalty on the "Sugar, Sugar". Boy, it would have been worth a lot.

Q - You mean you didn't?

A - I did it for scale. I was out of work at the time. I never thought it would be a big hit. See what I know.

Q - Ninety per cent of all records released, bomb. What does that tell you about the record business today?

A - The competition is incredibly high and the quality is very high. Those ten per cent that are hits, pay everybody else's way. To make a hit record in this business is not as easy as everybody thinks.

Q - Why do the record companies release so many records every year then?

A - Record companies have to spend a certain amount of money each year, and they budget accordingly. Of course, they put out a lot of records that are borderline, that could or might make it and they won't give it the big promotion until it gets radio play and becomes a big success in a couple of areas. That's because they have to spend the money in certain areas. Although this year, they really have been cutting back drastically on releases. Record companies have been much more selective on what they do release and promote. They still have to spend a lot of money or else they give it to the government, and record companies being big businesses and corporations and very industrialized, spend the money.

Q - Was it easier to land that behind-the scenes job back in '62 when you started?

A - Much, because there weren't that many people doing what I did. There weren't that many singer / songwriters willing to work for a song publishing firm. The competition was much less than it is now.

Q - Do you feel that Rock 'n' Roll is dead?

A - No. I think Rock 'n' roll has gone through twenty-five great years and is headed for another twenty-five great years, in different forms.

© Gary James. All rights reserved.