Roderick “Ricky” Stewart Gass was born in Durban, South Africa, in 1937, and moved to what-was-then Southern Rhodesia as a 17 year old to join the Rhodesian Light Infantry. He could play a bit of guitar and piano and was often called upon to render ad hoc performances in the mess hall. Ricky also wrote and played original songs he’d written with little commercial success. In 1970, Ricky’s daughter, Irene, was born in Salisbury. With her father’s passion for music, Ricky soon had the young Irene participating in musical activities. After leaving the army Ricky worked as a traffic officer, as well as for the Prison Service, all the while gigging about the country performing at many charity events. The family moved between Rhodesia and South Africa until Ricky’s wife died in Bulawayo in 1984.
In 1977 Ricky recorded a seven single dedicated to Elvis who had recently passed away. It is not known what this record was called or what it’s fate was.
Ricky’s next foray into recording occurred at the time of Zimbabwean Independence when he recorded a single called “Zimbabwe Under The Sun”, backed with “Kentucky Sue” as the B-side. Both songs were composed by Ricky. The single was recorded at Shed Studios and was released on the Gallo label. He sang the A-side with his daughter, Irene, who tragically died in the United Kingdom in 2017 after a botched operation to remove kidney stones. “Zimbabwe Under The Sun” does not appear to have enjoyed any commercial success.
In 1985 Ricky and his daughter let Zimbabwe and relocated to Pretoria where Ricky joined the Defence Force in an administration role.
It is believed that Ricky and an associate wrote and recorded a concept album in Durban. Ricky was playing piano at the Workshop at the time. Further information about this project is not known.
In 2012, at the age of 75, Ricky gave a unique and memorable performance on the television program, South Africa’s got talent. Ricky passed away in Durban in 2014.