I was truly saddened to hear that my dear friend with the most beautiful tenor voice, had passed away aged 81.
Without Ramon, The New Gospels would never have happened, nor A Suite of Gods.
I met Ramon after he had performed at the Dominion in Tottenham Court Road in 1987. He asked me if I ever wrote for tenors and I said no-one had ever asked me, and he said, "well I'm asking you!!!".
At the same time I was asked by my local United Reformed Church in Camberley to do a fund raiser for the new Allen organ that they were buying and so I wrote Sermon on the Mount, Trial and Error and The Lord's Prayer and sent piano versions to Ramon to see if he liked them, which he did and I visited him and his lovely wife Jackie in Folkestone on numerous occasions and his instant understanding of the music was fabulous and a friendship was instantly struck up.
After the concert in Camberley, Ramon asked if we could record these pieces and I said there were not enough for an album… his response was… "easily solved… just write some more"……and so in the next few weeks "The Gospels", (as it was first called), was born… it was re-written a couple of years later and because I knew Ramon's immense talent and voice inside out and backwards, every single piece was composed with his voice singing in my head.
We performed "The New Gospels", as the rewrite became known as, in a dozen cathedrals and many more large churches as well as in California, to sell out audiences but when Ramon's health started to suffer, which obviously affected his singing, I decided to not do any more performances of The New Gospels as I felt Ramon had earned that respect.
We also recorded A Suite of Gods which I truly love. It was musically very different, but Ramon "got it" immediately and the album is still one I am immensely proud of.
We did a church tour together, just a keyboard set up and his voice, which was very successful and indeed was when I introduced "The Barber of Wigan" into our show… When I first played The Barber of Wigan to him he was appalled!!! "I'm an operatic tenor… I can't sing this… A lot of my opera singing friends will attend the concerts and I really can't sing this in front of them".
I did a deal with him… sing it on the opening night and if the reception was not great, then that would be the end of it and to his credit he threw everything at it and "acted" the piece brilliantly.
He got a standing ovation.
We performed it at every concert after that.
He could talk for hours about his beloved Liverpool Football Club and his overall rounded knowledge of music was tremendous.
Ramon lived for his lovely family and his music… he did so much musically… many years in Phantom of the Opera in which he was superb. He also did Phantom in Dutch in the Hague… He had wonderful anecdotes about his life and was loved by all who knew him… The English Rock Ensemble nicknamed him Ramitin Regardless!
It was a pleasure and an honour to have both known him and worked with him and sincere condolences go out to all the family from all of us here.
Rick Wakeman CBE, June 19th 2021