December 20, 2017
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Sometimes it hits a little too close to home.
Rock poster artist and friend Ron Donovan passed away last week after losing his liver to too many years of alcohol abuse. I loved Ron like anyone did, which meant it was a love-hate relationship. He was funny, talented, smart, and charismatic. He was also selfish, often tardy, never with the tools he needed to do the job, full of excuses and a real pain in the ass. He burned more bridges than most. That being said, he was ubiquitous. There was no one like the Hobbit, “Rotten” Ronnie Donovan.
For over six years he was my foil when we co-hosted the 6 hour bootleg battle “Rock Fight” (links to most are below). Ron and I had perhaps the largest combined bootleg collection anywhere. It was easy to pull out brilliant live versions of tunes to one-up each other. He was always late to these shows, rarely had the material he needed, and would often pass out on the couch before we were through. I ended up having a strict “no hard alcohol” rule for these shows, which paid off as they were the finest we did together. We also hosted a few live bands and interviews during these marathon shows.
In 2011 Ron volunteered his services to make us a poster for Radio Valencia, which he was going to present at a big fundraiser of ours. He was four hours late and the poster had the incorrect URL and frequency on it! Oh, and he misspelled “commercials. HA! In typical Donovan fashion he just shrugged it off with a smile. I still have about a dozen of those posters somewhere.
Ron was mostly known through his great rock poster art. I met him when he and Chuck Sperry ran Firehouse Kustom Rock Posters. I would hang out at their warehouse and watch the magic happen. Ron was always the life of the party and often would bring the party with him. I’ll miss seeing him in his ink-covered shorts-over-thermals, and socks/sandals ensemble, riding along on his Powell/Peralta board looking for a free drink at any one of many bars or “offices” he had around town.
Tonight’s show is a tribute of sorts to Ron. I’m not sure he would have approved of every track, but he would have liked that they were all songs that one would want played as they passed on.
To check out previous Rock Fights, go here:
Rock Fight 14 – without Ron
Rock Fight 13 (mis-titled Rock Fight 14)
Rock Fight 12
Rock Fight 11
Rock Fight 10
Rock Fight 9
Rock Fight 8
Rock Fight 7
Rock Fight 6
Rock Fight 5
Rock Fight 4 – Playlist only
Rock Fight 3 – Playlist only
Rock Fight 2 – Playlist only
Rock Fight 1 – Playlist only
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Never Talking to You Again: Husker Dü
Dirt: The Stooges
I Wanna Rock: Twisted Sister
Purple Rain: Prince
Heaven: Talking Heads
Teenage Kicks: The Undertones
People Who Died: Jim Carroll
In My Time of Dying: Led Zeppelin (03/19/75 Vancouver, Canada)
Rock and Roll Suicide: David Bowie
Carrickfergus: Van Morrison and The Chieftains
The Bones in the Ground: Robyn Hitchcock
I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead, You Rascal You: Louis Armstrong
One More Cup of Coffee: Bob Dylan
Jig of Life: Kate Bush
Mea Culpa: Brian Eno and David Byrne
Highly Illogical: Leonard Nimoy
Hooray For Me: Bad Religion
Highway To Hell: AC/DC (12/17/81 Rochester, NY)
Watermelon in the Easter Hay: Frank Zappa
Black Peter: Grateful Dead (12/14/71 Ann Arbor, MI)
Happy Boy: Beat Farmers
Rock on, Rotten Ronnie. I hope you make it to your destination…eventually.