Ron Sakamoto Earns Twin Distinctions
The Lethbridge-based concert promoter was named to the Alberta Order of Excellence in a ceremony Thursday held at Government House in Edmonton, where he and seven other new members were presented w
By David Farrell
The Lethbridge-based concert promoter was named to the Alberta Order of Excellence in a ceremony Thursday held at Government House in Edmonton, where he and seven other new members were presented with the order's insignia.
The title comes shortly following Sakamoto being named by UK-based trade mag Audience as one of North America’s top concert promoters, along with two other Canadians—Live Nation Canada Chair Riley O’Connor and Nick Farkas, Evenko VP of concerts and events and co-founder of the Osheaga Festival.
In a phone conversation Sunday, Sakamoto said the designation was his greatest honour in a career that has seen him earn more awards and citations than the Beatles and Elvis had hit records. To get a handle on how much he’s loved and just how successful his 50-pus years in the business have been, Sakamoto relinquished his hold on the CCMA Promoter of the Year award after 17 consecutive wins. The award is now named in his honour.
There’s 46 other citations and awards he has collected along the way, including an honorary doctorate, but rather than dwell on his success, Sakamoto is keen to plug Johnny Reid’s new EP and cross-country tour in our conversation. “We are ten days in since tickets went on sale for his 22=date cross-Canada tour and we’re already 50-percent sold out,” he enthuses over the phone. "He’s the best.”
He was born in Coaldale, Alberta, in 1943 and grew up on a farm near Medicine Hat. His parents were born in Canada, but they were relocated from Vancouver to Coaldale, where they were interned during World War II, a harsh reality his parents were reticent to discuss; instead, instilling him with a sense of optimism and a drive to realize his dreams.
In the early ‘60s, he became an impresario, eventually taking ownership of two clubs, and that led to the creation of Gold & Gold Productions where, at various times, he has acted as agent, manager, and concert promoter. Some of the earliest acts he booked were the Doobie Brothers and the Beach Boys, but he has also made a considerable mark as a promoter of Canadian talent, and he has had a rocketing successful 15-year relationship with Reid, whom he describes as “my boy”.
Below, Sakamoto reflects on his career in a video reel that runs just over four minutes.