photo- Carleton Place Canadian files from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum Ralph Carlson on left Ron in the middle and Sam Henry on the left.
Ron McMunn, (1932-2007) one of the Ottawa Valley’s best-loved country performers! Known as the “Silver Fox” for his mane of silver hair, was once part owner of the Mississippi Hotel in Carleton Place. The Mississippi on Friday or Saturday was standing room only and favoured spot among fans of live country music.
Carleton Place – When country and western star Ron McMunn first stepped onto the stage in Pakenham at age 11 to give his debut concert, he knew immediately that music would become the soul of his life.
However, the expectations of becoming famous, or ever having his name in lights had not yet penetrated his mind. That would be a choice for his public to make and make it they certainly did.
In October of 1986, at the Ottawa Civic Centre, Ron McMunn was awarded one of the highest honours that a musician in Canada can receive; a plaque and position in the Music Hall of Fame.
Although Mr. McMunn sprouted from a musical background – mom was a piano teacher and dad played keyboard and guitar – his formal training in music was scant. There were no outlined lessons on piano or guitar and to this day Mr. McMunn cannot read a note of music.
You may have heard the phrase, having an ear for music, and that is exactly what Mr. McMunn has. Everything he plays by ear.
“All of the credit goes to dad’s old Stuart and Warner radio,” he said smiling.
“Dad had rigged up a high pole in the yard and we pulled in station from all over, even the U.S. Don Messier Show was a favourite, but learning the songs was no easy task.
Photo from the Carleton Place Canadian Files from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum
There were no tape recorders so the only way to learn the song was to listen to it over and over on the radio. Many frosty evenings were spent in front of the radio at home or in the back seat of the old Ford singing along.”
The first big break came about for Mr. McMunn when he ran into Papa Joe Brown and Ken Reynolds. They introduced him to Jack Polly who hired Ron for a spot on CJET Radio.
The first radio show he did was live from the town hall in Carleton Place with the Happy Wanderers. It was during his long stint with CJET he recorded his first single, For You, For You Alone.
Many other singles and albums were to follow, with Reserve Me A Table being his most popular release.
Mr. McMunn said he owed his inspiration to continue on in the music field during the rough times to his old friend Wilf Carter.
I played background for Wilf while touring in Western Canada in 1967,” he said, “and it was his realized way of performing that inspired me.”
“During this time I had my first taste of country and western music. We were in a bar out west and a tourist from the states requested a country and western song.”
“I only knew one song by Carl Smith so I gave it a try.”
The audience loved that song and since that day Mr. McMunn has considered country and western music his first love.
Since then Mr. McMunn, more commonly know to his fans as the Silver Fox, has delighted patrons from P.E.I. to western Canada and has even held audiences captive on the stage of the Grand Old Opry.
For young people staring out in the music business today Mr. McMunn has some sound advice. As a performer you must have a feel for your talent, always have future goals, good management and study the field to see what audiences are looking for and seek advice from successful performers in the business.
“Watch other performers carefully and pick out the traits that make them a good entertainer,” he explained.
“And most important of all remember that your audience is the boss at the show, not you.”
For Mr. McMunn, performing never became a jog, it was something he liked to do and this was a big advantage. However, the strain on his family and social life, always working weekends, was a disadvantage.
“The hardest thing was to keep from becoming an alcoholic.” he said. “You are always playing bars and nightclubs and people are always sending free drinks to the band. The type of work I do makes your throat dry and you must learn to control you alcohol intake.”
Mr. McMunn said young people today have a much harder time. There are so many good bands and the drug scene has added another dimension to the already existing alcohol problem.
Karen Chenier added.
Hey Linda Did you know that Jeff and Jamie McMunn actually wrote “Reserve me a table” when they were teenagers? Just found that out when George and I were sitting with Jamie and Louisa at the Fort Mac fundraiser last Friday. I always assumed that Ron wrote it but not so. Little tidbits of trivia, ,love it.!
McMUNN, Ronald “The Silver Fox” Inducted to the Ottawa Valley Country Music Hall of Fame in 1986 Peacefully at home, with his family by his side, on Tuesday, July 17, 2007 in his 75th year. Loving husband and best friend of Joan (nee O’Brien). Dear father of Jeffrey (Gillian – deceased) and Jamie (Louisa). Proud grandfather of Amy, Jennilee, Darren Graham, Brendan and Darby. Survived by his sisters Beula (Ron Cooke) and Margaret (Rod Palmer) and his aunt Ellen McMunn. Predeceased by his parents Frazer and Alice McMunn. Ron will be especially missed by Dorothy, his nieces, nephews, cousins, fellow entertainers and his many fans. Friends and fans will be received at the 19 McArthur Avenue, Carleton Place (613-257-3113) on Friday, July 20, 2007 from 1:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. A time to celebrate Ron’s life will be held Saturday at the Clayton Hall from 4:30 p.m. (Musicians are invited to bring their instruments). Donations to the Ottawa Heart Institute would be appreciated. The family wish to thank Ron’s nurse Dean, Dr. D. Ferguson and Dr. J. Laskey for their care. –