Pioneering record label executive, producer and activist who contributed passionately to his community and country.
Champion of Australian music and inspirational mentor to a generation of artists and producers.
Ron Tudor’s pioneering involvement in the development of the Australian Recording Industry is well recognized in Australia and overseas.
His staunch advocacy of Australian Records, his pioneering of, and fight for changes in support of the Australian Recording Industry
culminated in him receiving an M.B.E. in 1979 for ‘Services To The Australian Recording Industry’.
Recognised as the Australian Music Industry’s “favourite son” and later as a “founding father”,
Ron was there when the first Australian records were being made.
He saw after-hours warehouses turned into recording studios by night, toilets and stairwells converted to echo-chambers;
he knew more about the history, growth and making of Australian Music than most people today.
Born May 18, 1924 in the Victorian farming community Toora, Ron was one of 10 siblings and spent his childhood
around Gippsland in various farming communities.
He schooled in Welshpool where his father was one of the legendary “Snake Island” horseman written about in history books.
Ron’s ethic of hard work, long hours and dedication were established early in life.
Ron trained as a jockey at Flemington at 15 years old but grew too big to follow that path.
He loved horses and worked as a stable hand and in later life was a part owner in a racehorse.
Ron joined the Army at 18 years of age and saw active duty in New Guinea and Borneo during WW11.
On his return he took jobs as a ditch-digger, switchboard operator and clerical assistant.
He took advanced education courses and had also became an avid collector of “78rpm” Jazz records,
boasting one of the largest collections in Australia.
At this time, whilst working nights at the telephone exchange, Ron started phoning the 3AK Sunday night Jazz program, sharing his knowledge.
Through that contact the show’s presenters invited him to script their program, which he did between 1953-1955,
whilst still continuing work at the telephone exchange.
In 1956, following an associate’s introduction to the head of W&G Records, Ron’s life-long dedication to an industry he loved began.
Ron was the first ever-Australian Music Correspondent for an international trade publication, writing for CASHBOX from the late 1950’s - late 1960’s.
He had a regular music column in the then Melbourne Herald. He also independently wrote to international magazines promoting Australian talent and the
Australian Music business; encouraging an international spotlight and support of Australian music and musicians.
Ron went on to establish his own label - Fable Records in April 1970, which went on to become the first independent label to achieve notable success.
Fable opened its doors during the 1970 record ban, in which record companies would not permit their Australian or English records to be played at Radio
without a fee (Pay To Play). In establishing Fable, Ron became the “rebel” and there were many who believed when the dispute was settled in
November 1970 Fable would shut up shop.
Whilst Fable’s early success became a battle, indeed a war, the one unshakeable factor was Ron Tudor.
Not content with the successful “middle of the road” Fable, in September 1972 Ron launched the Bootleg label to cater for
rock/contemporary Australian acts. The acts signed to Bootleg, toured across Australia as a collective and “The Bootleg Family” was born.
At the helm of Fable/Bootleg Records, Ron launched the careers of many now “household names” in Australia.
By the end of his association of Fable in 1984, the company had amassed 22 gold/platinum discs and 35 industry awards including:
The first all-Australian international hit, “The Pushbike Song” by The Mixtures
John Williamson’s his first gold record for “Old Man Emu”.
Liv Maessen became the first Australian Female Recording artist to receive a gold record for sales of “Knock Knock Who’s There”
(Both John Williamson and Liv Maessen were given their recording opportunities as winners from the famous “New Faces” on which Ron was a judge.)
The Fable/Bootleg Labels won 8 of the 16 awards presented to the Australian Record Industry in 1972 by the Federation of Australian Commercial Broadcasters.
“Up There Cazaly” (1979) which at the time became the biggest-ever selling Australian Single achieved a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
The song itself has now become the most widely recognized theme song in AFL history.
Ron was acknowledged for his personal contribution to the Australian Music Industry many times during his 40+year tenure.
During that time, he continued to promote Australia and Australian talent, and battled and won many fights to improve the stature of the
Australian Recording Industry.
In the late 70’s, together with other music industry leaders and key musicians Ron spearheaded the
‘The Australian Music Makers Association’ that lobbied Government, lead rallies and media focus all around the country for an
increase in the quota of Australian music on Australian Radio.
The battle was fought over 3 years, much of that time Ron spent in the Australian Record Industry Tribunal hearings on behalf of the
Australian Music Industry. Time and effort paid off for the industry with the quota being increased from 5% to 20% over a number of years.
Whenever there was an issue within the Australian Music and Recording Industry which worked against Australians taking equal place,
Ron was there tirelessly crusading, much of it behind the scenes, but he was always in the front-line offensive.
Ron’s world travels and representation at MIDEM and international music conventions throughout the 70’s and early 80’s saw international releases in
America and Europe for his roster of artists. He worked the Australian and International “networks” as no one before him had,
and importantly he directed the International focus towards all Australian talent.
Ron sold Fable Records in 1984 with a view to retiring, but like so many ‘workaholics’, the decision premature. In 1985 he re-joined AAV Australia
(the largest independently owned recording studios and multi-media complex which he co-founded more than a decade earlier with music industry
greats and close lifetime friends and associates Bill Armstrong and Roger Savage).
Ron remained with the company until he retired at 86 years of age.
Ron continued to lobby internationally and nationally for the Australian Music Industry.
Retirement did not diminish his support for the rights of survival for the
Australian Music Industry as he joined forces for the reduction in the level of Sales Tax on recorded product in Australia.
In his retirement years Ron continued to be a much sought-after interviewee for media, documentaries and archival files on the Australian Music Industry.
His history and photographs are held with the National Film and Sound Archives, he has a presence in the Australian Music Vault/Arts Centre Melbourne.
Amongst Ron’s most coveted awards are his 1980 Advance Australia Award -
Outstanding Contribution to the recording Industry and
Contribution to the Advancement and enrichment of Australia, its people and way of life.
1996 APRA - The Ted Albert Memorial Award for Significant Contribution to the Australian Music Industry.
1999 ARIA - Special Achievement Award - contribution to the Australian Recording Industry.
ARIA recently uploaded their tribute to Ron along with fellow recipient and lifetime friend and colleague Bill Armstrong.
Ron’s portrait (painted by Ross Cockle, legendary Music Recording Engineer who worked with Ron through the 70’s/80’s at the famous AAV studios
in Bank Street South Melbourne where Ross and Ron recorded “Up There Cazaly”) was entered into the 2010 Archibald prize,
although it did not make the short list it was accepted into the
Victorian Hidden Faces of the Archibald ‘Salon Des Refuses’.
In his time Ron may have met Royalty, mixed with media moguls, celebrities and shaken the hands of legendary music greats from all around the world
including the likes of Frank Sinatra and The Beatles, Mick Jagger and Ray Charles but his greatest moments were witnessing the growth and success of the
Australian music industry and many of Australia’s very first recording artists finding recognition at home
and on international stages and equality in that process.
Above all else in his life, Ron Tudor, was first and last, an Australian - and exceptionally proud of it. It was through his vision, drive, enthusiasm,
fight and humour that he gained the love and respect of the leaders at the helm of the Australian Record Industry today.
To the end Ron remained actively interested in music, people, politics and current affairs.