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First published May 2016

Memories of Ronnie Sundin - written by Ray Tombs in April 2016

I first heard Ronnie Sundin singing on our Sunday request shows run on the local radio station in my home town of Hamilton.  I was around about twelve, now 71 and still love Ronnie's singing. 

Ronnie SundinRonnie Sundin singing with the Bill Sevisi Band

I was in a bitter-sweet situation where by a young guy that used to work with my father, became our boarder and moved into my domain, he was 20.  The down side was that I had to share MY bedroom with him, the up side was that he would buy the latest 45 records and had a portable player, so I got to hear Johnny Devlin come out with Lawdy Miss Clawdy along with all the other modern songs and I could play them like crazy after school while Brian the boarder was at work.  As soon as songs hit the charts, there was the record for me to spin.

I longed for a guitar but couldn't afford one as I was still at Technical College but my lovely grandmother bought me a half size one.  I bought a booklet on how to play the basic chords, something I have never advanced from, and I was one down from Elvis in my mind.   I would play and sing Waltzing Matilda, the same version Ronnie Sundin did on record, along with many others he'd done. 

When I was 14 (1959) Ronnie was one of the guest artists at a weekly Friday night function held at the William Paul hall in Hamilton, now the museum, it was run by the 100,000 club and was aimed at entertaining young people, they called it Teen-a-rama.  There was always different bands and of course Rock 'n Roll, and while I didn't and still don't dance, I loved watching the dancing and singers, so I was bowled over when I saw Ronnie on stage.  He was only about four years older than me and the living legend, good looking, cool and a recording star. 

As a lot of us do, I bought a number of guitars over the years, entered talent shows, concerts, got into bands and did gigs, and then along came marriage, not only once but twice! Some people never learn.  Jumping ahead a life time, the last marriage ran out of battery twelve years ago after a good 30 year run, since then I have met a motivational lady who has put me on track with some of the ambitions that I've had buried since I was a kid, amongst them is to own and operate my own FM radio station here in Rotorua, where I've been since 1971.  Radio Cindy 107.7FM is named after my lady, her name is Radio........ aaaah haaar, na it's Cindy. 

Name dropping to recording stars that you own a radio station is like dangling a sirloin steak in front of a Rottweiler, it has been my door opener to have contact with so many NZ and overseas stars.  One of my missions in the new life was to track down Ronnie.  There's not many Sundin's in the phone book and my first call connected to his sister-in-law Gloria Sundin.  She told me Ronnie was in a retirement home in the Massey area.  Cindy and I made contact and went to visit him and that was a huge thrill for me. 

 We both talked full on for ages and Ronnie told me all about his fairly brief recording history.  He and his brother Bill and some mates were jamming at the Sundin pad when a neighbour, the late Bill Sevisi, wandered over and told Ronnie that for a kid of 14 he sounded great and that he'd like to help get things up and running with his band as backing and try some recording, the rest is history.  Cindy and I went to visit Ronnie again a few months later and were privileged to meet one of his supporters and musicians Ray Morgan, man can that guy play a keyboard, magic.  I recorded Ronnie singing a couple of songs backed by Ray and have them on my station.  He doesn't sound like he did as a teenage star but we enjoyed doing it and he still has some work in progress and I look forward to hearing it in time. 

I was really thrilled that Ronnie gave me an original photo of himself along with Bill Sevisi and all the band as they did a recording session for Viking, and made it personal by writing a nice message on the back for Cindy and me. 

Thanks to Andy Shackleton for setting up this page for Ronnie, it has now given me the motivation to catch up with Ronnie again and see if I can be instrumental in getting his story up here, straight from the guy himself. 

In parting, remember Ronnie singing: Bye, bye baby goodbye, Mr Blue, Mean woman blues, Lili Marlene, Teenage beat, The way I walk, Just ask your heart, Moo cow boogie. 

Ray Tombs and Ronnie

Ray Tombs
Radio Cindy 107.7FM

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