KZEP 104.5 and Miller Light present Saxon and Starz, August 22nd at the Sunken Gardens Amphitheater! Gates
will open@ 6PM! Tickets are $15 and are available at HEB and Flipside Records!
NEW DIRTY TRICKS CD!!! Click Image.
JOE AND LOU
Together, Lou Roney and Joe Anthony would position
San Antonio through part of two decades as the "Rock 'n Roll capital of the world." It was a phrase that carried weight, as
numerous industry insiders looked to the Alamo City for that next great act. Further proof can be found in the form of special
dedications and thank yous to Roney, Anthony, KMAC/KISS and San Antonio on countless album covers and liner notes from some
of rock's biggest acts.
For well over a decade, Roney and Anthony turned San Antonio radio listeners and eventually the
rest of America onto numerous, previously unknown bands. From an unassuming studio in a downtrodden Alamo City neighborhood,
Roney and Anthony captured the attention of major record labels and concert promoters in the process.
In the end, their
creative genius led to the break out of eventual gold and platinum artists such as Rush, Triumph, the Scorpions, Judas Priest,
Ted Nugent and several other acts from across the globe. Among the gold albums still hanging on a wall in Roney's home is
Meatloaf's "Bat out of Hell."
Roney, who was one of the very first disc jockeys in America to play Bob Dylan, says he
went to work for KMAC in 1968. Little did he know that it was the beginning of a magic carpet ride that would catapult him
and Anthony to the FM dial on KISS and star-maker status in the Rock 'n Roll industry.
Initially, Roney was handed six
hours to program on KMAC. From noon to 6 p.m., he took the station on a musical journey light years removed from the religious
shows that filled much of the rest of the schedule.
He says the early years at KMAC were lean, with ad revenues and paychecks
being equally light. Anthony had yet to find his real niche in the Rock 'n Roll market and Roney was still searching for something
that would click.
"Finally, we started doing Rock 'n Roll," says Roney. "It wasn't until three or four years after we
were doing Rock 'n Roll that the owner knew it. He still thought we were Rhythm and Blues. He didn't know the difference."
It was then that Roney added another task to his programming director and on-air duties. He hit the streets and began
selling the station. "That's the only reason we got to keep doing what we were doing. KMAC hadn't been a real salable market.
When Rock 'n Roll started bringing the money in, the owner (Howard Davis) just turned the station over to us, and we could
do whatever we wanted to do."
Not just anyone can handle being the boss of the Godfather. But that's what Roney was
at KMAC, and eventually at KISS-FM. Roney and Anthony were an incomparable tandem -- as different as they were similar; as
laid back as they were progressive.
Roney says Anthony was sometimes extremely laid back. Anthony was notorious for playing
lengthy tracks, even full album sides. Roney says it was partly because he loved the music.
"It was also because Joe
would be sitting in (studio) playing cards," says Roney, admitting there were some times that he, too, had to play some lengthy
selections. "Joe was supposed to be at work by 12:15 p.m. and sometimes he wouldn't get there until a quarter to 1. I'd just
slap on an album that I liked."
Roney says he and Anthony were the perfect complement. "He would choose some stuff and
I would choose some stuff. I'll never forget, though, that I loved AC/DC. Joe hated them and refused to play them because
he didn't like the short pants on the album cover."
Anthony died from complications from a disease in 1992. His open-casket
rosary included taped music from some of the many bands he and Roney made famous.
Roney says when KMAC's Rock 'n Roll format was in its infancy, lesser known stations
such as his had to pay record companies to receive the more popular promotional records. "Radio stations had to pay like $500
a year to get the records from Columbia, CBS, etc.... If you were the No. 1 station in town, you didn't have to pay. But for
the next tier of stations, we had to pay a certain amount of dollars and our boss would never pay for that. So we didn't get
any of those records."
Roney says the only records his station would get in the beginning were new promotional records
from a friend of his that was an executive with CBS Records. "But all he would give us was the new stuff they were really
trying to push. (CBS) would send out this stuff and we would pull out the garbage. That's where our playlist came from. If
you were Cream and had a hit, we wouldn't get it unless we went out and bought it. If you were Aerosmith and no one had ever
heard of you, then they would give us those records. Out of 25 albums, three might be good. You'd throw the rest away and
save the Aerosmiths. That's how our playlist grew."
Once Roney and Anthony began to break out bands, they created a policy.
When other stations, especially in the San Antonio area, would pick up on a song from KMAC's playlist, Roney would yank it
from his station. "We didn't want to be associated with mainstream Pop."
In the later years, Roney and Anthony continued
to buy product and add it to the playlist. Only now, they had turned their attention to imports, which is how the pair discovered
some of the acts that eventually became synonymous with hard rock and heavy metal.
"I found Thin Lizzy and Joe found
the Scorpions," says Roney. "I found Judas Priest and Joe found Budgie. We were always looking."
Roney not only discovered
Triumph, he helped land them a recording contract with RCA. "The guys from RCA would call and say, ..Who did you find this
He says similar record contract stories can be told about English metal act Judas Priest, whose former frontman
Rob Halford often frequented an Italian restaurant Anthony once owned on San Pedro Avenue.
"They would keep a close watch
on us," says Roney about record industry executives. "Whatever we started playing down here, they would keep an eye on us."
Roney says it was about 1973 when he and Anthony began breaking out acts. But it was two
years later when they officially hit paydirt.
The rock group Rush arguably owes its vault of gold and platinum records
and a hefty portion of its bank account to Roney and Anthony. With the exception of a handful of club dates in the Buffalo
area, the Canadian hard rockers were invisible outside of their own country. Roney and Anthony gave the band's first promotional
record some airplay and listeners immediately bit the hook. Roney says Rush was on the verge of escaping the Great White North
and they didn't even know it.
In October 1975, a few months after the release of Rush's debut album, Roney says it was
time to bring the group to San Antonio. But San Antonio concert promotion company Stone City Attractions wasn't sold on the
obscure trio, nor interested in promoting their concert here.
"I called up and had (Rush) send us some more records,"
says Roney. "The more we played them, the more people wanted to hear them. I called up (Stone City's Jack) Orbin and tried
to get him to bring them down. He wouldn't have anything to do with it. He did not want them. He thought he would lose money."
Roney adds, "I didn't have a lot of money, but I got Joe and about seven or eight other guys together and sold shares
of the concert. I set everything up, went to Randy's Rodeo and told them I'd give them the bar if they would give me the door.
I had to build a stage, get a sound system to specifications. I had never done any of that before in my life.
that show and it was a monster. We couldn't jam anymore people in the doors. At that time, I wised up. I realized when somebody
really likes a band, I'll call them (the band) up, tell them about San Antonio and bring them down. We made a little money
After that landmark concert, Rush went on to record a total of 22 albums. All of them went gold or platinum.
Roney says there were countless acts that he and Anthony broke for which they never got credit. "We got wise after a
while and when we found somebody we liked, we'd call them up and tell them," he says.
Roney adds that Orbin and Stone
City did eventually play an integral role in what he and Anthony accomplished, and in carrying their momentum forward.