April 17th, 2024

Sakamoto inducted into Country Music Alberta Hall of Fame

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on March 26, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Ron Sakamoto has earned a lot of music industry awards over the years but the latest may be among the most dear to his heart.

Sakamoto was just inducted into Country Music Alberta’s Hall of Fame as a builder last week in Red Deer.

His induction was made by music artist Jason McCoy and CMAB director Ed Harris, who like Sakamoto is a Canadian Country Music Association Award winner. Harris, who spent decades in the music industry with MCA Records, now Universal, was given the Stan Klees Builder Award at the 2013 CCMAs.

Harris said Friday he’s known Sakamoto for decades through their work in the country music industry and he has high praise for the Lethbridge-based promoter.

“Ron used to bring a lot of our acts through Canada as well as Alberta – Reba McEntire, Vince Gill, George Strait so I got to know Ron quite well and the amazing thing was he always treated the acts with a lot of respect,” said Harris.

“Consequently, they enjoyed coming back to Canada and they weren’t going to work with any other promoter than Ron Sakamoto,” added Harris.

“He locked up the Canadian market in terms of country artists touring,” which included taking Shania Twain on her first tour.

Harris said Sakamoto went to Nashville to talk to Strait’s people in hopes of convincing the country legend to play in Canada.

“I sat in a bar in Nashville with Danny O’Brien who is George’s agent and I could not convince him. Even though I was his record label, he wouldn’t come to Canada because they had a bad experience with a promoter. But Ron knew how to work it. The bottom line is you give an artist a guarantee, they’re gonna come,” Harris said.

“It’s a well-deserved award for Ron,” added Harris.

“The guy is such a class act. He treated everybody on tours with respect from the guy working the sound stage and building the stage right up to the artist.

“One of the things I remember quite dearly is on a tour with Vince Gill, Reba McEntire and Clint Black, he gave everybody Calgary Flames sweaters with their names on them. And as you know those things aren’t cheap,” Harris said. “He’s just that kind of guy.”

He said Sakamoto on tour is always the first one in the building before a show and the last one to leave.

“He was a never an absentee owner. He was right out there doing the grunt work and making sure everything was fine for the concert. His philosophy was if he presented a bad show, he wouldn’t get the tickets sold for the next one,” Harris said.

Sakamoto said Friday he’s honoured by the award, one reason being because he was doubted when starting out.

People told him when he started his business “Ron, you are never going to make it from Lethbridge, Alberta, getting all the big artists across Canada. You’ll never make it from Lethbridge and Alberta.’ So you know what? It feels great,” Sakamoto said.

Country Music Alberta was formerly known as the Association of Country Music in Alberta (ACMA) but changed its name because another ACMA exists.

Country Music Alberta reflects “who we are and what we are,” said Harris of the 12-year-old association.

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