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Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Ron McLeod

// by Larry Delaney //

(#70 in the Ontario Country Music Pioneers Series)


Ronald (Ron) James Harry McLeod was born in Hamilton in 1933. Music always played a large part in his life. At age 15, he won a Gold Award playing the accordion at the Waterloo Music Festival. He was first discovered by Canadian dance band leader Slim Gordon, who hired Ron as an accordion player for his band. After honing his skills with the band, he joined up with Johnny Davidson and added Square Dance calling to his talent list. He also called for The Brady Square Dancers.

Ron McLeod’s early career fame was likely best achieved when he became a regular on the Main Street Jamboree. In 1958, he spread his musical wings further when he formed his own country group, Ron & The Rock-A-Billies. In 1960, he was a regular on the Saturday Night Jamboree – a popular radio show heard throughout Southwestern Ontario – as well as performing on the Country Hoedown TV show and The Bill Long Show, aired on CMHL radio in Hamilton.

In 1961, after releasing his first album, “Thanks A Lot”, on the Sparton Records label, Ron travelled to Nashville where he guested on The Grand Ole Opry. That exposure led to several tours in the USA and Canada performing alongside the top country stars of the day, including Hank Snow, Johnny Cash, George Jones and Bill Anderson.

By the mid-1960s, McLeod returned to Hamilton, where he formed his country band, Ron McLeod & The Lincoln County Boys, recording two albums – “On Top Of The World” and “On The Road” – both produced by Ben Weatherby for ARC Records. Popular singles pulled from the albums included “Cigarette Song” and “Suicide”, released on the Barry Records label; followed by the single, “Don’t Come Crying”, which enjoyed a four week stay atop the RPM Country Charts.

Ron McLeod & The Lincoln County Boys continued to be one of the top attractions on the Southwest Ontario country club and festival circuit, throughout the 1970s.

In 1973, he recorded the album “Okefanokee”, produced by Gary Buck. The album contained three of Ron’s own compositions, as well as the Ray Griff-penned song, “Step Aside”.

In 1979, Gary Buck produced a second album for Ron McLeod entitled “Royal Flush”, which again included three of Ron’s own songs and the Dallas Harms song, “Ruby’s Lips”. Dallas Harms is also credited with cover photo and design for the album.

McLeod’s recording legacy includes four singles that charted nationally, including the Top 20 hit, “Bobbie’s Got This Thing About Trains”.

In addition to his music, Ron was also an avid outdoorsman and owned and operated The Cedar Grove Hunting & Fishing Camp in Mar, Ontario, on the Bruce Peninsula. He was also a member of the Sauble Anglers & Hunters club.

Ron McLeod passed away April 12, 2008, of cancer, in Owen Sound, Ontario. He was 74.


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