Ronny Kae was Band Box’s most visible local recording act in the Denver area during the 1960’s – releasing six singles and a rare Band Box long play as well. Thanks to the liner notes on his Band Box LP entitled “Swingin’ Drums”, we have the following information to share.
Ronny (real name Ronny Kleitman) came to Denver from New York. He was born in Brooklyn and attended New York City Community College before coming to Denver where he attended the University of Denver (at the time of his Band Box LP release – most likely sometime in 1962.
Recording On Band Box
The “Swingin’ Drum” LP release is a bit difficult to follow in the progression of Band Box recording releases. Ronny’s earliest matrix number on Band Box is 201 – which appears to be the very first release in the Band Box 45 catalog. If so, this release should have come out sometime in 1958 or perhaps 1959. The catalog does contain a single numbering oddity – that being Leo Frazier’s Band Box 0003 release “If I Could Be Your Friend” b/w “He’s Your Savior, He’s Your Friend”. This too could be the very first Band Box release – Very little is known about Leo or this release.
After Band Box 201 by Ronny Kae, it would be awhile before he would appear again on the label, at least from a catalog numbering stand point. This brings us to his LP release on Band Box -“Swinging Drums” Band Box 1006. The LP contains 12 compositions, including “Bonfire Part 1”, “Warsaw Concerto”, and “Twist’n Rumble” all of which appeared as singles in 1962. However, the title cut or what could now appear to have been the title cut – “Swinging Drums” for which Ronny is best rememberd, is not on the album. “Swinging Drums” actually reached the number 1 spot on Denver’s KIMN Radio.
This could mean one of two things – the LP was cut in 1963 a year after Band Box 289 and 300 – and was cashing in on the local market success of “Swinging Drums”, or the LP was simply titled “Swingin’ Drums” and it had a good ring for a future single release in 1963.
Blog sites and Web Sites report that Ronny performed as a session drummer at times with Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Bobby Darin. The liner notes on his Band Box LP states that “Ronny has played his drums from the East to the West coast’s distinguished clubs and hotels. Ronny leads his own orchestra, and has become a familiar personality on television and radio. Dave Barhite from the Saints was a good friend of Ronny’s and said the saints often backed him up on local appearances as well as in the studio. Barhite says that Ronny was a character and he would often visit the local radio stations delivering modest enticements to get his record played. Barhite explains, “He did this not so much to sell records because we were in a very small market here in Denver back then, but to promote his name in order to book local venues.”
Cash Box Trade Ad April 24th, 1964
The strategy worked with Ronny landing gigs at local high schools and colleges. Barhite further recalls that local and national teen recording star Gary Stites would occasionally work alongside Kae and actually was included in some Band Box sessions. We have not confirmed this. Larry Higgins of Freddie & the Hitch-Hikers says that Gary was ‘long gone’ to pursue his recording career before Kae entered the Band Box record studio.
Long-time music store Guitarland was Ronny’s retail endeavor located in Wheat Ridge which he started up around 1965. It continues to this day flourishing with his two son’s guidance. Ronny passed away in 1993.
A minor mystery from the Band Box catalog are the releases by a couple of ladies with interesting last names. No one seems to remember these two artists and there is probably no relationship to the Denver drummer. Ronny was apt to change the spelling of his last name from time-to-time sometimes “Kae” sometimes “Kay” and at least once as “Ronnie Kaye”.
Band Box Singles
Band Box 201 – “Boom, Boom” b/w “Caravan” – 1967
The catalog number is out of sequence for the pressing date
The Sleeve artwork shown here most likely didn’t make it from the Band Box in-house artists to a printed picture sleeve.
*Charted Number 28 KIMN Denver, Colorado June 19th, 1963
*Charted Number 2 KIMN Denver, Colorado November 13th, 1963 – Charted Number 74 WGR Buffalo, New York January 30th, 1964
An interesting accounting sheet from Band Box for the Ronny Kae April of 1961 session
Band Box 380 – Taste of Honey b/w Drum City – 1968
Band Box Special 506 Limited Edition Oldies – “Swinging Drums” b/w “A Flight For Drums”
Band Box Special 507 Limited Edition Oldies – “Let There Be Drums” b/w “Drums Fell Off A Cliff”
Band Box (Unreleased) – “Broadside” b/w “What The World Needs Now Is More Drums”
45 – Honey 10521 – “Drums Are Back” b/w “Nostalgia” (By Ronny Kae and the Drum City Band)
45 – Scene SPO 1487 – “The King Is Dead” (both sides) – 1977 (as “Ronnie Kaye”)
45 – Jewel – 80834 – Night Train b/w I Won’t Mention It Again – Ronnie Kaye with the Al Morgan Trio
45 – Honey 11778 – Wipe Out b/w Harry Play Those Drums – 1978