Sunglasses Ron
'Sunglasses' Ron Staples - King of Teds
Originally from Newport, Wales, 'Sunglasses' Ron Staples moved down to London in the early 70's. He was first seen by London Teds as a hippy wearing a kaftans in The Black Raven in Liverpool Street. The locals were unconvinced of Ron's claims to have been a Ted in the 50's until he re-appeared at the club weeks later in the full Teddy Boy attire for which he was later known - black drape, shirt & drainpipes - complete with sunglasses.
Ron was known as a very friendly man who was softly-spoken and would help anyone out if he could, he could also be a bit of a con man - but everyone liked him. He was 6ft tall with a huge grin, a rich chuckle and a great sense of humour. On first meeting him you would not be blamed for feeling a little in awe of him, I must admit the first time I saw him I was a little nervous, I was still a teenager and he looked very large and scary from my 5ft perspective.
Ron done a lot for Rock 'n' Roll, including marching in Downing Street campaigning for Radio One to include a Rock 'n' Roll slot on the radio. By 1976 Ron was regarded as the self appointed king of the Teds in the UK. In the States they called him 'President of the Confederate States of America in exile. An archivist, administrator, rebel and veteran of the first post-war teenage cult. A quote says 'He was the only Ted I know who had an Equity card and needed it, because he appeared in the films Buddy and That'll be the Day', he was even given a mention in the Christmas episode of Only Fools and Horses.
'Sunglasses' Ron was laid to rest on the 22nd of May 1997, following his death ten days previous after a long battle against cancer, at the tender age of 53.

Those of you who attended will remember it was a funeral Ron would have been proud of, with the music of Rock 'n' Roll - Elvis's American Trilogy, Buddy Holly's Rave On and Eddie Cochran's Three Steps to Heaven, sending him off.
As the procession, lead by a leather clad undertaker, and including many bikes and hundreds of Teds walking behind the cars, arrived at the crematorium, Rock Around The Clock started up with people such as myself and Sylvia Hopkins breaking out in a jive in front of the lead car. This funeral created a long lasting memory in the minds of everyone who knew Ron. Alongside all Ron's friends and relatives were press reporters and photographers and a television crew all covering the funeral? Ron could almost have been royalty, in fact he was billed as the most famous Teddy boy in the world.
Inside the chapel where Colin Pryce-Jones resided over the proceedings, a Capital Gold DJ said: “He was the greatest ambassador for Rock and Roll and now he's up there with the greats. Thanks Ron you were a diamond."
Ron's last words were taped and played over the speakers at the church "Tell them how much I love them and tell them it better be a bloody good piss up". And it was, Ron well and truly had his last wish come true.
Ron, everyone was sad to see you go but they all know you'll keep on rocking in the afterlife with the likes of Eddie, Elvis, Buddy and the rest.
For years I had a running joke in 'Not Fade Away", saying "Oh, no, Not him again!!" pretending to be annoyed whenever his name appeared in print (which was often): it lead to many people believing we had a real feud and that I did resent his popularity. Not so! In the early 80's, when 1 lived in Leyton E1O, I often used to see Sunglasses and his wife, Jill, they lived in Forest Gate, a short stagger away, in a small house, part of a terrace that ran parallel to the railway line.
And he lived next door to a pub! Truly, a drinker's dream.
One night I arranged to see him at 8pm He wasn't in when I called but no problem. I scribbled a note that I was in the pub next door and asked him to join me when he came back.
I sat in the pub for an hour, getting drunker and drunker, but no Ron. When I did reel out, his light was on so he was obviously in I was a bit annoyed and asked why he hadn't come in to the pub.
He looked sheepish. "Can't go in there, Neil," he said. "I owe the landlord money".
Another time, at a big Rock'n'Roll show in Salford, he came up to me looking very embarrassed. He drew me aside, dropped his voice and said, "Neil, can you do me a favour, mate. I'm trying to impress some big record executives over there but I've no money to buy them drinks. Could you possibly lend me some".
I did so but thought, "You poor bugger. You're probably the best-known face on the rock 'n 'roll scene and you haven't got enough cash to buy drinks. There's something wrong somewhere!”
Those who hated or despised Ron (and there were plenty, as he ruefully admitted) will probably seize on these stories as confirmation that he was a useless scrounger and a layabout, but I can only say that he helped me in countless ways, none of them to do with money, so I was happy to help him.

He looked intimidating, with his huge bulk, the tattoos and those evil dark glasses. Then his face would split into an enormous grin, his mouth like a Halloween mask and his voice a fascinating mixture of Welsh arid West Country, punctuated with a rich chuckle.
He was a fascinating raconteur arid as he knew everyone on the scene, had an endless store of hilarious stories about them. There is a very successful entrepreneur still on the scene today, whom he remembered well from the early days. His comment on this character was "He's been a piss artist from the day I first met him." Clue: the guy is very tall and Welsh.
Some of Ron's stories I did take with a large sack of salt. For example, according to him, the only person who got paid on the unforgettable "Sun Sound Show" at the Rainbow in London was Jack Scott, who had a Mafia representative with him to ensure that he DID get his money. Is that story true? How do I know? I left the Mob years ago!
Many, of course, thought that Ron was a piss-artist. A conman, a publicity-seeker, who used Rock'n'Roll for his own ends. Others derided his 'King of the Teds" nickname (one London Ted of my acquaintance used to taunt him by saying, "Ron, can I be 'King of the Teds' this week?").
The girlfriend of my business partner at the time wrinkled her nose at the mention of his name. "He smells," she complained.
This fastidious young lady once stayed at the house of one of my friends and repaid his hospitality by wetting the bed and leaving her menstrual calling-card! Ugh!
Another rocker, lead singer with a group still prominent on the scene, once spent ten minutes demolishing Ron's reputation in conversation with me and telling me what an unpleasant creep he was.
He then went on stage and spoke warmly about the Brutish National Party!
None of this bothered me and still less Ron, who went his own sweet way. He was the only Ted I've ever met who had an equity card, who appeared in a cartoon, was mentioned in an episode of "Only Fools and Horses" and who once had 40 Fan Clubs in Europe devoted to him (so he told me and I'm quite prepared to believe it).
Even I was surprised to learn on his death that he had NINE children, but as he once told me that he had managed to juggle three girlfriends at once at the Fishmonger's Arms by the simple expedient of meeting one in one bar it 7pm, the second at 8pm in another bar, and the third at 9pm in another bar, it figures.
Instantly recognisable, this "Large, friendly person", as one of the pop papers aptly described him, made friendship his main hobby, next to Rock'n'Roll and the Confederacy, of course, another one of his enthusiasms).
Some accused him of being a racist, but Stuart Colman (l speak that name through gritted teeth) told me that this was a pose and that his life had been saved when younger by a Pakistani doctor.
Ron might have been poor for most of his life, but mean he was not, I was at his house once and happened to mention that I still had an old reel-to-reel tape-recorder but unfortunately it was knackered.
"I've got one in the loft you can have, Neil," he said. It was a good 'un, three-speed and I still have it. Another time he sent me a sort of Rock'n'Roll diary - a list of important events connected with rock' n 'roll (and the Confederacy!) that had occurred throughout the year - I still have that, too, but it was never published as 'NOT FADE AWAY" dropped dead shortly after.
Mention of death brings us to Sunglasses' own funeral, an unconventional affair with the undertaker in jeans and leather jacket, a guitar slung over his shoulder; the mourners a mixture of Rockers and Teds, plus plenty of unclassifiable fashions and "Three Steps to heaven" as a hymn.
He must have been laughing from the grave, as his last message on tape wouldn't play properly. One of the pallbearers was missing so my girlfriend suggested that I offer to take his place. All the pallbearers were different heights and the coffin rocked and rolled alarmingly as we threaded our narrow way between gravestones - I had a horrible fear that I would trip and appear in a headline in the evening news that night; "Teddyboy crushed by coffin".
We all said our goodbyes to him at the graveside but in fact I had made my farewell earlier in the funeral parlour where he lay in state (only joking!). He looked very different as he had a neatly trimmed George Michael-type beard.
My girlfriend, Jean, suggested I put something in his pocket as a farewell token of friendship. I had nothing suitable but found a scrap of paper, wrote on it "A friend to the end" and tucked it into the top pocket of his drape jacket.
So what was Sunglasses Ron's contribution to Rock'n'Roll? After all, he never wrote or performed a song, edited a magazine, put on large shows, ran a fan club (except for himself, as cynics suggested).
Well, he contributed himself he was a good advertisement for the fun and friendliness of Rock'n'Roll; a benign ambassador for all that was best in the music and its fans. He had no successor and I cannot think there ever will be one.
Goodbye, Ron, and thanks. A friend to the end.
Neil Foster

Ron Staples did a lot for Rock 'n' Roll, including marching in Downing Street campaigning for Radio One to include a Rock 'n' Roll slot on the radio. By 1976 Ron was regarded as the self appointed king of the Teds in the UK. In the States they called him 'President of the Confederate States of America in exile. An archivist, administrator, rebel and veteran of the first post-war teenage cult. A quote says 'He was the only Ted I know who had an Equity card and needed it, because he appeared in the films Buddy and That'll be the Day, he was even given a mention in the Christmas episode of Only Fools and Horses.
'Sunglasses' Ron was laid to rest on the 22nd of May 1997, following his death ten days previous after a long battle against cancer, at the tender age of 53.
Those of you who attended will remember it was a funeral Ron would have been proud of, with the music of Rock 'n' Roll - Elvis's American Trilogy, Buddy Holly's Rave On and Eddie Cochran's Three Steps to Heaven, sending him off.
As the procession, lead by a leather clad undertaker, and including many bikes and hundreds of Teds walking behind the cars, arrived at the crematorium, Rock Around The Clock started up with people such as myself and Sylvia Hopkins breaking out in a jive in front of the lead car. This funeral created a long lasting memory in the minds of everyone who knew Ron. Alongside all Ron's friends and relatives were press reporters and photographers and a television crew all covering the funeral? Ron could almost have been royalty, in fact he was billed as the most famous Teddy boy in the world.
Inside the chapel where Colin Pryce-Jones resided over the proceedings, a Capital Gold DJ said: “He was the greatest ambassador for Rock and Roll and now he's up there with the greats. Thanks Ron you were a diamond."
Ron's last words were taped and played over the speakers at the church "Tell them how much I love them and tell them it better be a bloody good piss up". And it was, Ron well and truly had his last wish come true.
Ron, everyone was sad to see you go but they all know you'll keep on rocking in the afterlife with the likes of Eddie, Elvis, Buddy and the rest.

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