Ron Mael

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Ron Mael
FFS (Franz Ferdinand & Sparks) @ Albert Hall, Manchester 25-8-2015 (20285490753).jpg
Mael onstage with FFS, 2015
Background information
Birth nameRonald David Mael[1]
Born (1945-08-12) August 12, 1945 (age 74)
Culver City, California, U.S.
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • composer
  • record producer
  • music programmer
  • film director
  • Keyboards
  • synthesizer
Years active1963–present
Associated acts

Ronald David "Ron" Mael (born August 12, 1945)[2][3] is an American musician, songwriter, composer and record producer.[4]

Mael's music career spans more than 50 years. With his younger brother Russell, he formed the pop band Halfnelson in 1971. After the release of their first album, the band name was changed to Sparks.

Early life[edit]

Ronald David Mael was born on August 12, 1945, in Culver City, California. The Mael brothers grew up in Pacific Palisades – an affluent beach suburb of Los Angeles – with their father, Meyer Mael (of Russian and Austrian Jewish descent),[5][6] who was a graphic designer and caricaturist for the Hollywood Citizen-News,[7][8] and their mother, Miriam (née Moskowitz), a librarian.[9] After being educated at Palisades High School, both brothers enrolled at the UCLA;[10] Ron began a course in Cinema and Graphic Arts in 1963 while Russell studied Theater Arts and Filmmaking between 1966 and 1968.[11]


Ron Mael plays the keyboards and synthesizers and writes most of the songs for Sparks. When the band hit the peak of its popularity in the 1970s, he was well known for his strange appearance, often remaining motionless over his keyboard in sharp contrast to Russell's animated and hyperactive frontman antics. Ron's conservative clothes and unfashionable, Charlie Chaplin-esque toothbrush moustache attracted much attention, as does his current pencil moustache. Onstage, Ron alternates between playing the keyboard and engaging in comic mime routines, often in connection with projections on backdrop.

Mael has used Roland keyboards and synthesizers for many years, customising the "Roland" company logo on the instruments to read "Ronald".[12]

The pair appeared as themselves in the 1977 disaster film Rollercoaster, performing live. They also appeared in episode twenty-two of season six of the Gilmore Girls.

In June 2018, Edgar Wright announced he is making a documentary on the cult pop-rock band Sparks.[13] He had covered the band's concert in London in May at O2 Forum Kentish Town. This concert will also be a part of the documentary.[14][15]

Personal life[edit]

In 2017, a reviewer noted that while the brothers' biographies recount an LA childhood in which they surfed and were both models for mail order catalogues, their private lives are otherwise almost entirely unknown. "Well, we're in good company with Bob Dylan", was their reported response. "We feel the less you do know, it keeps the mythology and the image in a better position." Even to the question of whether they have partners or spouses, they refused to give an indication, insisting that "the vagueness is more interesting than the reality."[16]


With Sparks

Year Album
1971 Halfnelson
1973 A Woofer in Tweeter's Clothing
1974 Kimono My House
1974 Propaganda
1975 Indiscreet
1976 Big Beat
1977 Introducing Sparks
1979 No. 1 in Heaven
1980 Terminal Jive
1981 Whomp That Sucker
1982 Angst in My Pants
1983 In Outer Space
1984 Pulling Rabbits Out of a Hat
1986 Music That You Can Dance To
1988 Interior Design
1994 Gratuitous Sax & Senseless Violins
1997 Plagiarism
2000 Balls
2002 Lil' Beethoven
2006 Hello Young Lovers
2008 Exotic Creatures of the Deep
2009 The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman
2017 Hippopotamus

With FFS

Year Album
2015 FFS


  1. ^ California Birth Index, 1905–1995, [1] (Birth Date: December 8, 1945, County of Birth: Los Angeles, Mother's Maiden Name: Moskowski)
  2. ^ Family Tree Legends
  3. ^ Ron Mael on IMDb
  4. ^ Strong, Martin Charles (November 1, 2002). The Great Rock Discography. The National Academies. pp. 214–?. ISBN 9781841953120. Retrieved June 1, 2012.
  5. ^ "1940 United States Federal Census". Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  6. ^ Axelrod, Merry Anne. "Re: (It's A Samuel) Mael World". Retrieved November 8, 2012. [The author is a cousin of Russell and Ron; her father, Alvin, is listed as being Meyer's brother on the 1940 census]
  7. ^ "Myer Mael: "Roy Rogers" Object Record". Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  8. ^ "Harrietta Hughes on the cover of Republic Insider Magazine 1947". Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  9. ^ Lorente-Darracq, Xavier. "Ron Mael and Russell Mael – Biography". Graphik Designs. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  10. ^ Welch, Chris. "Bright Sparks". Melody Maker. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  11. ^ Lorente-Darracq, Xavier. "op. cit". Graphik Designs. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  12. ^ "LIVE REPORT: Sparks". The Quietus. June 17, 2012. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  13. ^ "Edgar Wright to Tackle 70s Cult Band "Sparks" in New Documentary". Collider. June 21, 2018. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  14. ^ "Edgar Wright's Next Film is Pop-Rock Documentary About Sparks". June 21, 2018. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  15. ^ Sharf, Zack (June 21, 2018). "Edgar Wright's Next Film Is a Documentary on Cult Pop-Rock Band Sparks – Exclusive". IndieWire. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  16. ^ The Independent interview

External links[edit]