Multi-talented Musician Ronnie Wells Returns to the Spotlight With Timeless Appeal
Ronnie Wells is a man of many talents to say the least. Born and raised in Jersey City, his first show of exceptional musicianship was his ability to play drums at an early age, landing him spots with both the high school marching band and in the highly competitive, infamously rigorous St. Patrick's Cadets Drum Corps. His talent only escalated from there and now a grandfather of seven, Ronnie Wells still shows no signs of slowing down with a new solo album about to be released and a solo performance act in the works.
You got off to a strong and early start in the music business. Tell us about that.
By the time I was 17, I had discovered that I could sing pretty well and had started my own group, "Ronnie Wells & The Fabulons." Rather than scrubbing dishes or mowing lawns like other kids my age, I was pretty lucky to be earning money getting decent paying gigs around New York City's popular nightclubs like "The Wagon Wheel, "The Peppermint Lounge" and "The Metropole. In those days, underage kids playing club gigs also got the ultimate privilege of being issued a Cabaret Card. I remember standing in line to register for my card with young future musical legends like Diana Ross and Mary Wilson of "The Supremes."
You soon added bass playing to your bag of talents?
By the time I was 20, I had discovered another passion for bass playing and so I started singing and playing bass with my second successful band, "The Sound Exchange," as well as a number of other 60's top recording acts.
Your career path had also taken a very unexpected turn into medicine. Tell us about that?
I kind of began leading a double life with medical studies by day and musician by night. After graduating from St. Peters College and NYU, Ronnie I began practicing as a Respiratory Therapist and as a Physician Assistant at both the Holy Name Medical Center and at my own private practice at the Fairlawn Memorial Hospital in New Jersey.
Wasn't it difficult balancing two dueling careers like that?
Not at all. For me it was the ideal symbiotic balance. The only real challenge I remember was switching back and forth from the opposing personas encompassed by each world. I would be playing gigs in the city until the wee hours of the morning and then showing up at my early morning shifts in the intensive care unit still wearing my bell bottoms and big hair from the night before.
But on a more serious level, I did become extremely self-aware of letting go of the light-hearted devil may care attitude of the musician's world and stepping into my role in treating patients with the seriousness and sensitivity it required. Medicine really helped me grow up in a lot of ways.
Would you say that you were always a musician first and foremost?
Definitely. My natural born affinity for music never let me quit the business not even for a minute. Even during the peak of my medical career I was still playing front man and bass with various acts such as, "Long Train" and "Billboard." Then in 2010, I retired from the medical field and began devoting all of my time to writing, arranging, recording and producing my own material and for other artists as well.
You even wrote a song that Conan O'Brien performed.
Well I co-wrote and recorded a song for my friend, Bruce Oliver, who owned a Tractor Trailer Training School. The song was called "Shiftin' Willie" and it was sung by Conan O'Brien for a live comedy skit filmed in Mahwah, NJ and then later used in an episode of the "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" show.
You released your first solo album in 2012?
Yes, the album is called "My Bad" and includes the title track as well as a number of songs selected from the "Great American Songbook."
Now you're about to release your next album, "Say It With A Song" and your going to be doing live solo performances?
Yes, I'm currently in the process of recording my second solo album as well as developing a new solo performance act. The show is being geared toward hotel and cruise type venues, and will possibly include everything from a comedic opening act, to a full band, to female background vocalists...all depending upon the venue.
I may be a grandfather of seven now, but I have no plans of slowing down yet.
To find out more about Ronnie Wells, his music and upcoming performances go directly to the website: www.RonnieWellsMusic.com
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