the backroom of the Music Exchange
I heard thru the grapevine last night that local music legend Ron Rooks died. I bet that I’ve known Ron off and on twenty-five years or better. Ron drank too much, talked too much and sometimes was a pain in the ass to be near, which is neither here nor there. It’s what Ron Rooks represented that’s important.
Ron was the last of, and for the lack of a better term I’ll use this cliché, the last of a dying breed. If there was a constant I knew about Ron Rooks was that he did things his way. He respected and valued the old ways which was clearly represented in his passion which was owning the largest vinyl record story in the city. If it was on wax Ron had it or he knew where he could lay his hands on it.
His store the Music Exchange was known not only here in Kansas City but every fan of wax the world over knew about Ron and his store. Ron used to boast to me that he had over a million pieces of vinyl sitting in his store at any given time and I never doubted his word.
I first met Ron back in the late seventies and it didn’t take me long to figure out that this cat didn’t give a fuck about upsetting the status quo. Some days I’d run into Ron in Westport and afterwards I’d tell myself “that went well”. Because I’d never knew which direction Ron might be coming from. He might hover and talk for minutes on end and I might or might not catch on or I’d catch him in a moment of clarity and hear a great story or he just might look around and not dig the cut of things and decide to shake shit up.
Ron knew that I loved to write and one day he walked up to me and told me that he wrote also. And from his pockets he started producing all these scraps of paper, post-it notes, bar naps, anything he found close to hand. And they were all full of thoughts and ideas, whatever he caught in his head he put to paper.
I tell em that he had to put all this down where folks could read it but he’d just stuff everything back in his pockets and smile as he walked away. Ron Rooks did life his way, with his own style and for better or worse, that’s gonna be missed.
"and the monkey flipped the switch"