Ross Cole passed away on 28th July 2023, aged 84. The widely respected and much loved musician, conductor, band master and owner of Cove Music and Dicksons Music for many years was added to the Australian Music Association’s Honour Roll in 2017. Loving husband of Marilyn, father/stepfather of Steph, Steve, Virginia, Nich, Sam, Louise, Bruce, Kate. Grandfather to Emma, Beth, Andrew, Kat, Jono, Macca, Jacko, Dom, Daniel, Bec, Georgia & Anthony and great-grandfather to Jordan. Ross Cole started learning piano in primary school but after two years the teacher said she could not control him and had no talent so he stopped. Ross then went to North Sydney Boys High, joined the brass band playing Euphonium and loved it and music. By his final year Ross was playing cornet and trombone in two different music groups and the following year, 1955, won the State Junior Trombone Title.
In those days music shops were very few, Frank Dickson in a backstreet of Chatswood, and Palings, Nicholsons, J Stanley Johnsons and Harry Landis in town although Landis stopped him coming in after a while because he kept going in and testing trombones and mouthpieces and never buying.
Over the next 20 odd years music was still a very strong hobby while he married and had a number of career changes. However, in 1979 while lecturing at UTS and Sydney TAFE he met his present wife Marilyn with whom he had gone through infant school at Willoughby and they were married shortly after this with 5 children between them.
That year. after attending a parent/teacher interview at Roseville Public School he heard some children trying to play musical instruments. He immediately corrected a couple of the children and within a couple of weeks of pressure from the teacher concerned and Principal agreed to take over setting up their band program. This grew very quickly and with the demand for private lessons and other schools wanting to start band programs, in 1982, after numerous complaints from neighbours in Castle Cove and across the water in Killarney Heights about the noise every afternoon and early evening, Ross set up Cove Music in Roseville Chase with a music school and retail operation.
By 1986, having grown and expanded, the business wanted to become full line but could not get piano/keyboard agencies because they were held by Dickson’s Music, so they bought out that store. By the mid-1990s they were running band programs in more than 20 schools on the northside of Sydney, were already running and expanding the Dickson’s Yamaha Band Festival, which in its 24th year of 2013 when health issues forced its closure, had over 240 bands and orchestras participating. The business also had acquired Action Music and had operations in Chatswood, Roseville, Brookvale, North Perth (WA) and Westchester, Los Angeles and was heavily involved in ABODA.
The business continued until 2014, with regular trips to Chicago (where he met many publishers and composers) and NAMM Shows in Anaheim. Ross and Marilyn then ended their full time involvement in the industry although Ross continued to conduct two community bands, the Latestarters and the Northside Concert Band.
Ross was interviewed for NAMM’s Oral History project in 2017.