Remembering Ron Barrett from the Candy Harlots

Ron Barrett was only 26 years old when he passed away.

Ron Barrett at far right with his Candy Harlots band mates

I knew him fairly well via him being a member of the Candy Harlots. The first time I saw him with that outfit was supporting Cheap Trick at The Tivoli in April of 1988. I would go on to see him perform with the band on at least 30 other occasions – maybe more. He was always polite and friendly when I chatted with him, and from all accounts – a decent human being.

Barrett had played with the Glam Savages, which also featured bassist Nick Szentcuti and drummer Peter Ayscough. Vocalist Mark Easton who had been fronting the band – left to form the Candy Harlots, taking Barrett and Szentcuti with him. I never saw the Glam Savages. I saw their name in the gig guide, but never did check them out.

From 1987 until his death in 1990, Ron was rhythm guitarist/songwriter with the Candy Harlots. From that first aforementioned show at the Tivoli, to the Harlots Ball at the Coogee Bay Hotel, Barrett had a great stage presence and with his red gretch, and confederate flag draped around his left cowboy boot, looked every bit the underground rock star.

Barrett, unknown ligger and Mark Easton at an in-store appearance in 1989

One great memory I have of him is from a weekday show at the Kardomah Cafe in Kings Cross where he showed up after work in his suit and tie, and did the gig in business attire. He looked cool and I wish I had’ve taken a photo. I remember when the band’s debut single was released, I was so focused on them obtaining worldwide domination, I’d designed a promo flier – even enlisting the help from a local Hanna Barbera cartoonist (a favour I would call on again when working with Girl Monstar). My brother and I believed in the Candy’s are subsequently covered the Sydney CBD with Candy Harlots fliers (even pinning one in a restaurant unlocked menu cabinet on George Street). Later that night – after a gig at the Sydney Cove Tavern, Barrett comes out, shakes my hand and thanks me for all the hard work. In appreciation he gave me a signed 8×10″ which I’ll always keep, cos it means something.

I think the last time I saw him with the band was at a Gladesville show in late 1989. I had dropped out of that scene somewhat – maybe feeling disgruntled that they hadn’t cracked the bigtime. Fast forward to October 1990 when I get a phone call from a friend asking if I’d seen that day’s paper ? He tells me that Ron Barrett had died. I walked in shock to purchase a newspaper and stood reading in disbelief. Barrett’s girlfriend at that time was well-known Australian actress Virginia Hey (who, according to Wikipedia had also dated Michael Hutchence and Duran Duran’s John Taylor). If not for Hey, Barrett’s passing would’ve made the music street press, and not the mainstream media – which is the way it goes I guess.

Barrett died from an asthma related attack. Ultimately – even though the band went on to be signed to a major label – they never did reach the heights which they justifiably deserved. In my opinion, they would’ve made for a  great opening act during that Guns n Roses tour of December 1988, but that’s ancient history.

Barrett wrote the tune ‘Wrap 2 Arms’ which appeared as the B-Side of their second vinyl single ‘Danger’ which was released on Timberyard Records. When the post-Easton line-up signed with Virgin, their first single was a re-recording of ‘Danger’ which was backed with another Barrett composition called ‘Hot Love Child’. For a time the band were opening their set with this tune and it was a scorcher. I believe his nephew Dane gigs around Sydney in an outfit called The Disadvantaged. Things  go full circle I guess…

26 years old is young, too young to die. I’ve got very fond memories of the Candy Harlots – particularly the 1988 shows, and great memories of their rhythm guitarist named Ron Barrett, who left this earth way before his time. Rock on brother…

image courtesy TV Week 1990

12 thoughts on “Remembering Ron Barrett from the Candy Harlots

  1. hi,i didnt know Ron personally,but back in the day i absolutely loved candy harlots,me and my girlfriends would get all glammed up and go to their gigs where we always had a rage.I remember seeing them at the Kardomah,Sydney cove tavern etc,After Mark Easton left,they kind off lost there appeal for me,I still went and saw them a few times with there new singer but it wasnt the same.Anyway i just wanted to say Candy Harlots were great fun and i have some tops memories seeing them with good mates.

  2. I too was fortunate enough to know Ron, I worked with him at OTC back in 1988 and he as an incredibly down to earth, polite guy, who despite the rock and roll lifestyle still managed to hold down a job as an electrical engineer. I left Sydney end of 1988 and was saddened to hear on my return in 1991 that Ron had passed. He was a shooting star, gone too soon.

    1. Really loved your memories of Ron..or Ronald as he was my first cousin. ..and we spent lots if great holidays in Melbourne with him and his family. Definately a shooting star in this world..and deeply missed by his sister ..mum and dad. We were all stunned. Play on Ronald..always missed.
      .Korina Sharp..Darwin NT

  3. I had a copy of that newspaper for at least a decade but I’m not sure what happened to it 😦

    Ron was always my favourite – it was hard to take your eyes off him (much to the annoyance of my ex husband who used to gig with the Harlots a lot!)

    They were an amazing band and Ron was a true star .. rock on brother indeed x

  4. I knew Ron through my friendship with Lisa who was a friend of Marks. I went to most of the gigs and always took lots of photos which I’d share with them when i got them developed. I remember the Cheap Trick gig as it was the most chilled I’d ever seen Ron and he gave me a HUGE hug hehehe still have all my photos and my friends and I will always look back with fond memories of a great guy. Miss you Ron

  5. I knew Ron since the days he was in The Glam Savages playing The Propaganda club in The Cross. He was a great friend, lover, and lunch mate! I still miss him. I too was overseas when he passed, and I found out when I got home. I was absolutely devastated.
    Ron will always stay in my heart, and I know that one day, I will see his smiling beautiful face again!
    Thanks, Rockbrat, for remembering a True Legend!

  6. Thankyou to all of you who respect the memory and continue to reminisce on special times you either shared with Ron or just the fact that you miss his amazing presence in the world,I was his girlfriend for many years and engaged to be married to him when he died ,every year when it’s the anniversary I think first and formost of his family and am excited by Danes presence in the music scene(last time i saw him he was one I think).Then I think of Ron’s potential music career and to see people still are talking about and sharing there memories of him on stage is so uplifting after 24 years he still shines on ,in your thoughts and forever my biggest and only love.thankyou thankyou thankyou

  7. I went to uni with Ron, but didn’t really get to know him until working with him at OTC. He was a very smart, personable and technically capable guy, with a wicked sense of humour to boot. At uni some of us used to refer to him as “Syd” – for the name and musical connection, obviously, but also because another guy in the course was the spitting image of 70s-era David Gilmour. And Ron, if you’re reading this, it was me who never got around to giving back the CCITT No 6 Signalling Handbook that you loaned me (not that you need it now).

  8. Really loved your memories of Ron..or Ronald as he was my first cousin. ..and we spent lots if great holidays in Melbourne with him and his family. Definately a shooting star in this world..and deeply missed by his sister ..mum and dad. We were all stunned. Play on Ronald..always missed.
    .Korina Sharp..Darwin NT

    1. I was a friend of Ronnie Barrett. We were in the same year at Sydney High. We were on the rowing team and I hung out at his place in Paddington occasionally. He was so different back then – as clean-cut and straight-laced as one could be. His transformation to rock star after high school was quite dramatic. Most of his friends from that scene would not believe it was the same guy. Short hair, good student, into working out, no drugs; I can’t remember if I ever even saw him drunk. Big smile and a great sense of humour. An intelligent guy with the world at his feet. One of the last times I saw him was walking down the street in Randwick, near to where he lived. I was at Sydney Uni and he at UNSW. We hadn’t seen each other for a while. He had gotten much taller and had grown his hair long. He was virtually unrecognisable, and we walked straight past each other, unknowingly, but something caught my eye; something about the way he walked made me realise it was him. I looked back and yelled out: “Ron?” Sure enough, I was right. We went back to his flat and caught up. He had obviously gotten pretty heavily into the music scene while at uni. He told me he was in a band but I barely believed him, though he did have the look. It was only later that I found out that he was in a really good band. I knew he liked music and we shared similar tastes. I remember he loved The Cure. We went to see AC/DC together at the SCG. But I never saw him play an instrument or express any interest to do so. I guess he just picked it up quickly once he started. That was probably the last time I saw him. I never got to see him play. I found out at some point that he had died, from a dj in a nightclub where I worked. I was told it was a drug overdose, but that didn’t seem right. I wish I had been a better friend and had gotten to know him during his rock star days. I’m sure he could have gone far with that, had he had the chance. I miss him and think about him often, which is what led me to look him up and find this website. He was a good man.

  9. I was fortunate enough to spend 3 years together with Ron studying Elec. Eng. at UNSW. In our small group there we commonly referred to each other as “Manic Dudes”, but Ron, despite his quiet demeanor, was on another level which ever way you looked at him. Anyway, after Uni, we all went our separate ways; I was in Japan when I heard of his passing, and I sort of promised myself to do a little living for him, or at least with him in my heart. It is now about 30 years since we lost him, and I still haven’t said my good byes to him. Next time I am in Australia, which should be soon, I would like to visit his resting place and catch up with him as it were. If anyone can help me find this information, I would be most grateful.
    I can be contacted directly via email:

    Love to all.

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