Ron Crawley, vocalist for Pure Gold since the late 70s, has music in his genes. His father, a drummer, began singing at age four. His grandparents would frequently play piano and sing for ill and elderly members of their church congregation. Often they would take a young “Ronnie” along to sing Christian hymns.
Growing up, Crawley lived in small central and northern Pennsylvania towns and spent many hours listening to the radio whose play lists consisted mainly of Big Band sounds and Country Western ballads. Moving to Pittsburgh and culturally diverse Homewood-Brushton in the mid-1950s, Crawley was exposed to local vocal groups like The El Capris, El Duprees, El Morroccos, Diadems and other Black radio R&B and jazz artists and his musical tastes were shaped.
Crawley formed friendships that were instrumental in shaping his musical direction. Through Vann and Lionel Harris Vann and Alex, the drummer and guitarist for local R&B stars the LaRells, he began picking up tips on singing. Another friend, Richard Harris, sang with George Benson and the Altairs. Benson went on to become a superstar and Harris went on to sing with Chuck. Barksdale of the Dells in Dinah’s Gents, for the great Dinah Washington. Crawley was present on the day the late Joe Rock brought Doc Pomus’s tune “Everybody Knew” to the LaRells to learn and later record.
Through these associations, Crawley became known to the Pittsburgh music community. After the demise of the LaRells, in the mid 60s, Crawley worked with the Vanguard Band, as an advance man with band leader, Vann Harris. He worked with disc jockeys Sir Walter of WAMO and Wash Allen of WABQ in Cleveland.
Around 1970, Crawley was approached by an old friend, Alex Richburg, to write lyrics with him as a song writing team at a new music venture, Steel City Recording based in East Liberty. This venture involved many of the same people that he had grown up with. There were many talented songwriters and performers struggling to make careers at Steel City. Of the three songwriting teams, the most successful was Mervin and Melvin Steals who later wrote “Honey Bee” for Gloria Gaynor and “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love?” for the Spinners.
One of the aspiring talents at Steel City was the late Phyllis Hyman, who later became a recording star and celebrated Broadway star in “Bubbling Brown Sugar.” She sang backup on the Crawley-Greenley and Richburg song “Dancing on a Daydream” on the Soulvation Army label. This tune was produced by Walt Maddox and David Parr in 1974.
During the 70s, Crawley sang off and on with a few groups and penned some tunes with Chris Copetas for local song stylist, Tim Stevens. In 1976, one of the groups he sang with included bass singer Sidney Hill, who would later join him in Pure Gold.
He worked for a short time with the late Ray Mitchell’s Pittsburgh Music Industries in management and production, co-producing Reality Band and Show’s “Gangster Boy” on the Apple Ray label in 1977. He also worked in artist development with the Youngstown, Ohio group JC and the Soul Angels and the group Ultimate Choice.
Baritone Tenor/Lead Vocals
In 1978, an acquaintance at work asked him if he would like to have some fun singing at a friend’s house. It was there that he met Henry and Susan Deluca and the Pure Gold story began.