Ron Coolen Biography
It must have been around 1978 that I first heard AC/DC's 'Whole lotta Rosie', followed by Van Halen’s ‘Eruption’. That is where my love for heavy music started, to never disappear anymore. As a teenager I witnessed the birth of The New Wave of British Heavy Metal, with bands like Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Tygers of Pan Tang, Raven (I became penpals with John Gallagher) and many more. Then the Americans countered with Metallica, Riot, Virgin Steele and too many others to mention. Later countless Hair Metal bands dominated MTV, and the Shrapnel-shred revolution was magnetic. I never stopped listening to heavy metal music ever since.
Still, there is only one thing better than listening to heavy metal music, and that is playing it yourself.
After spending 3 useless years in music school at the age of 10 playing keyboards, I decided to become a self-taught musician. At the age of 15 I bought a Gibson SG replica and tried to learn guitar, but that attempt failed completely; I just could not get the hang of it. I noticed however that I had a good rhythmic feeling. So when a friend of mine needed a drummer, I decided to put every penny I had into buying a drum kit. Our first band RAZOR was born in 1983.
We were ambitious and ready to conquer the world with our own music. Being a drummer felt rewarding and I developed my style and skills rapidly. We played lots of gigs and had a loyal following of fans. However, when bandmate Andrew Elt was asked to join Gin on the Rocks in 1985, I decided to finish my school instead of trying to become a professional musician. That was the end of RAZOR.
From the mid 90’s onwards I became an active musician again, mostly playing in local bands and projects, not only hard rock and heavy metal, but also even playing disco and dance classics.
On a different note: when I was training for the New York Marathon in 2008 I decided to run for charity for Jason Becker. I still remember that day in 1993 when I heard Jason was diagnosed with ALS; this made a deep impression on me. Jason's medical bills are huge and he was in need of any financial support. I set up an auction system where musicians donated goodies and I sold these to fans, with the proceeds going to Jason.
Resulting from the Jason Becker Charity I ended up having a Radio show on a regional Dutch station. Next to a weekly 2 hour hard rock show I also set up an online ‘interview channel’ (nowadays called ‘podcasts’) in which I interviewed musicians. I felt there was a demand from the fans to hear in-depth stories about the career, music and projects of their favorite artists, since social media only provided quick and dirty information.
In 2011 I got involved in co-organizing the 'Jason Becker Not Dead Yet Festival' in Haarlem (NL), with an amazing line-up of guys like Guthrie Govan, Mattias E. Eklundh, Stéphan Forté, Atma Anur, Michael Lee Firkins, Timo Somers, Kiko Loureiro, Andy James, Stuart Hamm, Barend Courbois, Martin Miller and many others.
This incredible experience inspired me to pick up the guitar again, since it was still an unfulfilled desire to master my favorite instrument. In 2018 I felt confident enough to switch from drums to guitar in the AC/DC cover band I was playing in.
Rediscovering the guitar gave me a very strong desire to create my own music. I have always had ideas for riffs and melodies, but never got to turn them into complete songs. I decided to go for it and create a solo album with my own songs. A long and intense journey resulted in the release of the album ‘RISE’ in March 2020.
I worked with 12 guest musicians who took care of vocals, lyrics and guitar solos. I was able to leverage some the industry contacts from my earlier non-profit activities, which brought me some great names to play on the album. People like George Lynch, Keith St. John, Christopher Amott, Göran Edman among others.
‘RISE’ got global recognition and the reviews were unanimously raving, which inspired me to start writing songs for the next album. Musically, there was nothing else to do anyway, as Covid put the world into lockdown for years, right after the release of ‘RISE’.
In 2023 new music will see the light of day. The concept is similar to the first album. I write the music and play most of the instruments, the guest musicians take care of the vocals and guitar solos. The first milestone is May 5, with the release of a single called 'Heavy Metal Till I’m Dead', an epic arena-style rocking theme song.
The second single will be 'Shake me to the floor' (release date August 18) which is a tribute to Eddie van Halen, the greatest of all times! The new album “Here to Stay” will be released in the fall of 2023. The album will reflect the intense cooperation I have built with Keith St John.
I am living my dream of creating my own music. Selling big numbers would be nice. But the best thing that can happen is that people take the effort to sit, relax and listen to the music. If you get comfort, inspiration, motivation or just happiness from listening to my music, that would be my ultimate bonus. I value your feedback on my music and thank each and everyone for your time to listen to my music. It was a very long and bumpy road to get to this point, but I’m 'Here to Stay'.
Meeting John Gallagher of Raven at the Aardschokdag festival 1983
Meeting John and Mark Gallagher after the Raven gig as support of Saxon 2018
Francoise Vaal, my bandmate in AC/DShe, and valued support in the initial album process and author of some lyrics on RISE