December 11, 2011

The first time I met Ron Anton was in 1966 when I was living in NYC. He was a lawyer  at BMI, who was young enough to relate to the songwriters who were making the popular music of the day. My partner, Kelli Ross, and I administered the publishing for some of those popular music makers, who included Joey Levine, Artie Resnick (“Chewy, Chewy”), Leslie Gore (“She’s A Fool”, “California Nights”), Janis Ian (“Society’s Child”), Jazz greats Bobby Scott, and Quincy Jones!

It was always a pleasure to deal with Ron on behalf of our clients, he treated Kelli Ross and me with the upmost respect, during a time when there were no black song pluggers at any major publishing company, and few women owned their own businesses. I never thought of Ron as being part of the establishment because of his sensitivity to the needs of songwriters, composers, and publishers.

In the early ‘70s, when I moved to LA and went to work as General Professional manager for Warner Brothers Music I’d run into Ron, who was running BMI’s west coast office, at industry functions, concerts, openings, etc. and occasionally share a lunch, but I never imagined I had such a strong ally.   

In 1975, I remember Ron coming to my aid, when I went into business for myself after running Irving-Almo Music and BMI wouldn’t give me a $5000 advance against my future songwriter and publishing company royalties. It was standard procedure, when I was at Warner Brothers music, that every new artist David Geffen would sign to his record company would get a $5000 advance from BMI, so I thought I should at least get the same consideration.

When BMI turned me down I was livid, but Ron calmed me down and not only got me the advance I was asking for, but he named my new publishing company, WayneArt Music.

I remember, it was a cloudy afternoon the Wednesday before thanksgiving I was waiting up in Ron’s office up at BMI, for a my check to arrive overnight from NY…but it never came. As the office workers started to leave early for the long weekend, Ron saw me sitting dejected in the outer office, sat down with me and asked, “What’s wrong?”

I told him that I needed that certified check in order to buy a classic 1965 Mustang hardtop at half it’s value by tomorrow or lose the opportunity. He smiled, wrote me a personal check for $5000 and took me to his bank downstairs to cash it, wished me “Happy Thanksgiving” and walked out to his car!

I thought to myself as I returned the money to him on Monday, when my check came in up at BMI, how lucky I was to have a friend like Ron.

Over the years as I drifted away from the music business I lost touch with Ron and his lovely wife Dene, who was my occasional songwriting partner. Then I ran into them unexpectedly at Rick Bolsom’s Cakewalk restaurant in Nashville in the mid-nineties, where I was guest hosting for the evening. We were all so happy to see each other, even though Ron introduced me to the rest of the dinner party as Artie Shaw in the excitement of the moment, Dene hit him on the arm and corrected him. We all had a good laugh and proceeded to have a great evening!

In October of 2000, I was stunned to hear that Ron lost his life in a fire at his home. I’ve stayed in touch with Dene over the years, who has done a remarkable job of keeping Ron’s memory alive.

As we get older, we look back and appreciate the people who made a difference in our lives and Ron certainly made a big difference in mine!

Thank you my friend and may you ROCK IN PERPETUITY!

Respectfully, Artie Wayne

Copyright 2011 by Artie Wayne

NOW YOU CAN BUY MY NEW BOOK ,“I DID IT FOR A SONG” AT AMAZON or Barnes & Noble or from Smashwords






  1. Tom Slocum Says:

    Ron Anton was a Prince, a Gentleman, and a Class Act..

  2. brooks arthur Says:

    Ron Anton was a true gentlman and a great, great songman. He nurtured and encouraged talent. You cannot think of BMI without thinking of my dear friend the great Ron Anton. May He Rest In Peace!
    Brooks Arthur

  3. John Braheny Says:

    Artie, I’m glad I saw your beautiful tribute to Ron Anton because it made me go back to the piece I wrote and delivered at Ron’s memorial gathering in Los Angeles shortly after his death. Thank you for the opportunity to contribute it.

    In 1972, when our fledgling Los Angeles Songwriters Showcase (then the Alternative Chorus Songwriters Showcase) was showcasing new writers at Capitol Records ‘Studio B’ here in L.A., we looked for financial support to take it beyond our limited capacity to provide services for writers. We had interest from another organization at the time but, likely because they hadn’t gotten to know us, they were taking a long time to commit. Meanwhile, Ron Anton and Rick Riccobono were at the showcase every week offering to do whatever they could to help.

    When negotiations broke down with the other organization, we called Ron. He came to the little studio behind Len Chandler’s house in West Hollywood that was functioning as our headquarters. We three spent the afternoon talking, drinking a little wine, Ron playing stride-style on our upright piano, jamming, swapping songs and stories. He was clearly our kind of guy. He asked us what we needed. He trusted us. We had our sponsorship deal in two weeks with no strings attached. He always said, “If it’s good for songwriters, it’s good for BMI.” It allowed us, finally, after 2 years, to pay ourselves and hire a staff.

    For the next 18 years Ron was our champion, lobbying annually for the continuation of our BMI sponsorship. It allowed us to create a grass-roots community of songwriters in L.A. that previously had been nonexistent. Through the years, it brought thousands of writers together with the industry and with each other. Ron loved that and we loved Ron, not only because he believed in us but because his heart was always with songwriters. Even after he left BMI, his and Dene Anton’s ongoing support for The Los Angeles Songwriters Showcase and National Academy of Songwriters was deeply appreciated. He won’t be forgotten. We don’t forget the good guys. When we leave this world, the only wealth we take with us is the love of those we touched. Ron Anton left a very rich man.
    John Braheny and Len Chandler

    • Artie Wayne Says:

      Thanks for sharing that with us John.

    • Peter Anton Says:

      Thank you Artie and to all of you for sharing the wonderful memories, love and thoughts of my father. He left our world much to early and much to young, and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him and miss him dearly. I know I am truly blessed to have had the time we did together and cherish those memories. He was a wonderful father, and truly a great and gentle-man. We have an 8 year old son Slater, and he is so much like dad it at times is uncanny (luck boy!;)!

      Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday and healthy, happy new year!

      Peter Anton

  4. Harvey Cooper Says:

    Ron Anton…Like cream to coffee he rose to the top on every occasion for all of us..for me he was the gold standard in a business that needed a gold standard…He was never replaced because he couldn’t be.I have my personal reasons to for the way that I feel about him and they will remain private.Thank you Artie for the reminder…Harvey

  5. mark barkan Says:

    As a BMI writer for as long as I can remember there were always the great people who I met there. Ron was one -always a gentleman and helpful if I had a problem.

  6. John Madara Says:

    Ron Anton was my best friend. I was Dene and Ron’s best man when they married. I knew Ron from the BMI side,but also from the personal side.

    His kindness,his caring that he gave to the writers at BMI was always there for his friends when ever they needed Ron’s wisdom and love.

    Thank you Artie for this wonderful tribute to Ron! R.I.P.

  7. Cynthia Weil Says:

    Ron Anton was a gentleman and music lover. We adored him. His wife Dene is still close to my heart.

  8. Ann Munday Says:

    Very sad to learn of Ron’s death.
    He was always a gentleman to me and took me a music person,
    My condolences to his family and close friends.

  9. I really entered the BMI family in Los Angeles when Ron was in charge of operations there. And, of course, every event – whether it was an awards dinner, a showcase, whatever – Dene was there at his side. They were a wonderful, loving and supportive couple – sort of like the fun uncle and aunt who threw the best parties and encouraged the dreams that your own parents said you were crazy to entertain.

  10. Alan Says:

    Hey Artie,
    No big connection with Ron, in fact I learned more about him from reading John Braheny’s eulogy above. But I do remember he always had a pleasant, caring word for me, and a reputation for integrity. I’m lucky that my initial experiences in the “biz” were in the days of good folks like Ron, Dene, John & Joanne Braheny, Len Chandler, Ed Silvers, Mel Bly, Lenny Golove, Bill Golove, Sidney Goldstein, Steve Morris, Snuff Garrett, Dallas Smith, Steve Barri, Tom Dowd, Artie Wayne…
    And I’m sure I left out many!
    Alan O’Day

  11. Becky Hobbs Says:

    Hi Artie,
    Thank you for sharing memories of Ron Anton. He was definitely one of the “good guys,” in this crazy business. I miss seeing his smiling face at the Green Hills post office in Nashville. He and Dene were a beautiful couple, and she’s worked hard to keep his memory alive. Dene and I are forever friends.
    Becky Hobbs

  12. jerry heller Says:

    What a great gentleman and a TRUE VISIONARY. A rare breed in our Business then and evev rarer now. R.I.P. my friend. My deepest sorrow to your lovely wife. JERRY HELLER

  13. Dennis Lambert Says:

    I signed with BMI in 1964 so I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with a number of BMI’s senior executives. Ron Anton was a friend and supporter like few others. I could always count on Ron for his advice and guidance, whether it was BMI related or not. I adored his gentle ways and quiet strength. I stay in touch with Dene and through her, I keep the spirit and memory of Ron alive and well….Dennis Lambert

  14. AL KOHN Says:

    Dear Artie,
    It is most difficult to add anymore to the tributes above to Ron.
    I am pleased you instigated this.
    Have a Happy and Healthy Hokiday Season.


  15. Terri Fricon Says:

    It seems that I knew Ron Anton forever. I can’t remember where or when we first met, but I know I loved him immediately. When I ran Schine Music in the early 70s our offices were in the same building. I recall calling Ron to tell him that I had written a song with Danny Janssen and Gregg Williams and was going to have to join ASCAP or BMI as a writer even though it might be the only song I’d ever write. I had barely hung up the phone when Ron followed by most of BMI’s staff arrived with contract, application and pen. I remain a BMI writer to this day. After I moved to Nashville in 1995, I was able to spend time with Ron and Dene in their lovely Burton Hills home. I was devastated when Ron lost his life in a fire in that house in 2000. RIP Ron, you left us much too soon.

  16. denny diante Says:

    Artie…wonderful tribute to Ron. He was simply one of the best ever. Bright, always smiling and always eager to help. One of the few who really got the music and loved it. He’s still the best…

    denny diante

  17. Ken Hirsch Says:

    Having had a very special relationship with Ron and Dene for many years I still miss his enthusiasm, intelligence, warmth and support. A real mensch and a glorius couple who really knew how to throw a party!
    Artie, thanks for keeping Ron’s spirit alive.
    Ken Hirsch

  18. Artie Wayne Says:

    Posted on behalf of Russ Regan…

    Hi Artie
    I was lucky to be
    A friend of Ron
    Anton! He was
    Truly one of the
    Greatest human
    Beings I have
    Ever known!!
    I still miss him!!
    Russ Regan

  19. Artie Wayne Says:

    Posted on behalf of Michael Lloyd

    Ron Anton was a true music business icon. A huge part of BMI – and a huge part of the creative process with so many people and projects. I’m fortunate to say that I knew Ron for something like 30 years – and I wish he was going to be around for another 100 years! When I think of BMI, I think of Ron…and when I think of Ron – – – I think of his friendship, talent and and integrity.

  20. deborah Says:

    Ron was a wonderful person who helped so many! He will be missed and remembered forever! Love and Blessings… Deborah Allen

  21. Dinn Mann Says:

    Here’s to Ron Anton. As stepfathers go, Ron was a remarkable father. I still remember seeing “Waking Ned Devine” with him and so many other movies like, say, “Heaven Can Wait,” and can’t help knowing Ron is still with us, laughing, observing, assisting, collaborating. He was a positive, passionate enabler of great work. His fingerprints and his soul have survived. Always.

  22. Sam Emerson Says:

    Ron, you always had a smile for me. You were a kind and gentle soul and you will be missed. Sincerely, Sam Emerson

  23. Artie Wayne Says:

    posted on behalf of Harriet Shock

    This is a fitting tribute to one of the finest gentlemen ever to grace this industry. Ron helped everyone whose life he touched. And his beloved Dene continues his legacy.

  24. Artie Wayne Says:

    posted on behalf of Richard Podolsky

    Great story Artie. Jay tells it with a little twist in my upcoming Don Kirshner book: He brought the demo into Don’s office for all to hear before it was released. At its conclusion he anxiously awaited Carole King’s reaction. “It’s a fucking smash!” she said, and Jay let out a sigh of relief.

  25. Artie Wayne Says:

    posted on behalf of Kay Parker

    Ron Anton changed my life! He was my hero and still is. He offered me a place to teach at BMI and therefore changed the lives of the many students who came to study with me and went on to musical careers of their own. I own him a great debt of gratitude and wish he were here so that I could tell time in person how much we meant to me. A great loss to the musical world and to the world in general. I still miss him.

  26. I read this often, dear Artie….hoping that through my eyes Ronnie can somehow read the love that his friends felt for him. And always will. I will miss him until my eyes see the kindness in his again. Thanks So much for your post and ,to his friends and family, for sharing your thoughts and feelings. What y’all knew of him is the way he was with me for almost twenty five years. Ron was consistently kind..and non -judgmental .Such a gift to a Judge’s daughter. . He has been away now for over 13 years . But he is only a heartbeat away…and I know that
    He will be there for us when we get there….He is watching…and
    Listening…Hope you are doing well,Artie, and enjoying Palm Springs, We loved it there. Happy Holydays, Dene

  27. Larry Lighter Says:

    Somehow I made my way to this website. Ron was a friend and legal colleague. He is missed.
    Larry Lighter

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