Tragic Story of Ron Tabak

This is the lead singer of Prism,Ron Tabak.
I was sad to hear of his untimely death in 84.
It was Christmas and a member of the band (Allan Harlow) had invited him over for Christmas dinner. Harlow lived in Kitsilano & Ron lived in Surrey. Ron decided to get some exorcise and rode his bicycle over to his to Al Harlow’s house. However, it was the time of year when the roads were slippery. He didn’t wear a helmet or have a light on. A car must of struck him, knocking him to the ground. He was taken to the hospital. He became abusive and aggressive towards the police, was arrested and put in jail. He was found unconscious in his cell.He died the following day
He had a blood clot which had made him aggressive towards the police. He never regained consciousness and passed away on December 26th,1984.
It was sad and unnecessary.

The Rock world lost a fantastic singer on Dec 25th/84.
(I forget exactly when I shot this concert? So am guessing?)

Update : from Tina Anderson November 9th,2015 –
Thank you for your reply. I could add more detail to your story if you wish.
Ron was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle down Kingsway around the 2700 block on Christmas Eve. He was taken to Burnaby General Hospital, where he became loud and was swearing. Police apparently ran his name and found traffic violations so he was taken to jail. He was found unconscious in his cell and taken back to Burnaby General. From what I read in news articles after his death, it said Burnaby General didn’t have a brain scan machine so he was sent to Vancouver General Hospital. An operation was done to remove a blood clot, but the damage was too severe. He was kept on life support to harvest his organs, and was officially pronounced dead on December 26th 1984. His grave marker says he passed on December 25th, but he was technically brain dead and on life support until the next day. He was 31 when he passed away. The picture I’ve enclosed was from what would have been his 60th birthday, September 25th, 2013.

20151109-unnamed(photo credit T.Anderson)

Update : from Tina Anderson March 10,2019

In the articles I’ve read about this, Al said that he offered to pick Ron up and bring him to his house on Christmas Eve, but Ron wanted to ride his bike and get some exercise. Can’t get exercise riding a motorcycle. Every news story I read said he was riding a bicycle.

64 thoughts on “Tragic Story of Ron Tabak

  1. Hi and thank you for the words about Ron Tabak here! I would like to ask if you have other photos of the band during his tenure as frontman. So nice to see this picture of him. My name is Al and I’ve been a fan for many years. I also host a fansite dedicated to Ron and Prism and would like to ask permission to share this image with other fans.

    Again, much thanks for this article!

    1. I knew Ron from the Zodiac cabaret in New west. I was the DJ from 80 to 84.He would come in and I put on one of his songs and he would grab a mic. from the band and sing with his own songs. He was a really nice guy and very talented with an awesome voice. I was shocked to hear of his passing and the story I got from Tommy Stewart of Trooper was that he was on a pedal bike.

      1. To also add details is that he was riding a bike was because he lost his drivers licence.
        He had a DUI and was not a good drunk. Even before that happened,He was let go from the band because of his inability to be a happy drunk. Those days we drank a lot.

  2. Too often death happens tragically and needlessly, I am thinking of my cousin who died also from an accident at Christmas time and it was preventable. Very sad.

  3. Ron was a good friend to both my husband and myself in high school,Spent many a day after school at my house just hanging out. H e was a comedian,always kept us laughing.

  4. Thanks for the update Wayne, and I really like the snow effect. There is a group on Facebook for fans of Prism and Ron Tabak. It’s called “Fans of Prism: The Ron Tabak era”, for anyone who is interested in seeing more pictures, and reading stories from some people who knew him and the other band members. :)

  5. so sad to imagine his death may have been preventable under different circumstances. It brings to mind the death of Natasha Richardson who also had a brain hemorrhage and taken to a hospital without a CT Scan wasting precious time. I am so sorry to learn of this.

  6. I was a friend of Ron’s from NewWestminster , We use to go to The New West Bruins games on Sundays, He was A sweet friend and I’ll Never Forget Him , When I heard what happened to him I was crushed , I think about Ron often, I miss his Smile..Rip Ron ..Love MaryAnn Thorson

    1. Wow nice story. I grew up at Queens Pk Arena too. Loved Ron’s music. He could belt out either a ballad or a rocker with the best of them. Miss him greatly. Still think the cops covered this up somehow!!

      1. I heard the one of the arresting officers committed suicide a year later don’t know if that’s true or not

  7. My mom was a good firend of his . She also was his hairdresser . She once had to rush home because he left his glove at her place . Lol unfortunately our house burnt down and all the pics everything from back then was gone . But the story’s I hear are crazy!

  8. I had no idea that Ron had died so many decades ago. I saw Prism in concert in the late 70’s in Kingston Ontario Canada. It was my first concert. I am so sorry to hearing that he had passed in such a tragic way. He had a great voice. RIP Ron! I got so many enjoyment out of those first records.

  9. As a teenager in the late 70’s and early 80’s growing up in Saskatchewan I loved listening to great Canadian Rock Bands (Streetcar, Harlequin, Trooper, and the list goes on. But one of the all time favorites is Prism! I had the pleasure of seeing Prism at Casino Regina fall of 2017. (Thank You JACK FM.) They still sounded good with Al Harlow as vocalist, but nobody can ever replace the late great Ron Tabak. Keep Rocking!

      1. Yes. Good Times! I wish we could turn the clock back 30 years when these bands were at their peak. Thank God for internet so we can keep enjoying their music! Thank You!

  10. I’m sorry Tofino, I forgot to mention by going on this website and reading this just goes to show Ron’s legacy will always live on! Thank You!

  11. according to current Prism lead vocalist Al Harlow Ron Taybak was riding a motorcycle not a bicycle. I think his version is credible being a bandmember then and now .

    1. In the articles I’ve read about this, Al said that he offered to pick Ron up and bring him to his house on Christmas Eve, but Ron wanted to ride his bike and get some exercise. Can’t get exercise riding a motorcycle. Every news story I read said he was riding a bicycle.

    2. just got a comment from someone who believes it was a bicycle as well. Al asked if Ron wanted a ride over on Christmas Eve but Ron said no thanks he wanted to get some exercise.
      The Police report would have the data I’m sure!

      1. Because I’ve just had 5-6 replies back and forth was it a motorcycle or a bicycle. I am a huge fan of Ron Tabak and certainly don’t mean any disrespect but at this point how it matters what he riding only that he suffered a tragic death we all mourned.

    1. Thank you, well……I’ve been a wildlife photographer for over 40 years now and that pretty much explains it all right there. I love Nature and all the animals I find out there in it.
      I go out and do my thing by myself and so do not have anyone to share these remarkable experiences with. So I guess I blog to share to put it simply.

  12. Hi, Thanks for reading my post. Although I didn’t know of the tragic accident, o indeed the young singer who was killed, having three sons of my own, it always squeezes my heart to hear of such a tragedy. Such talented people are long remembered. May he rest in peace.

    1. and it could of been avoided If he didn’t ride at night (in the rain) with no helmut!
      He may of been very charismatic but not a very good cyclist. I do not own a car and get around solely by biking.
      He will live on through his legacy,music!

      1. back then alot of people didn’t wear helmets. I rode a bike all through college, and helmets were almost non-existent. They are a thing of today. not back then. We are more safety conscious today around head injuries, etc. thank goodness. He was a great artist!

      2. good point Jennifer! I raced back then and did so with one of those silly leather helmets on! Dam thing wouldn’t of done anything.
        I’m surprised to see a family out riding, and only the kids of helmets on.

  13. First time caller, LONG time Tabak fan. I was just flipping through some old LPs on this rainy Saturday and came across See Forever Eyes, prompting me to Google Ron’s name and discover this site. Interesting (and sad) reading which leaves me confused, as I somehow remember the news stating that Ron’s tragic death was of him being hit on his bike while riding on Expo Blvd through the dark underpass behind BC Place. It certainly doesn’t make any sense that someone would ride a bike all the way from Surrey to Kits, just as nonsensical that it would be to find someone riding a motorcycle in December without a helmet – it would be freezing on the face and ears. This link to seems to suggest the cycling again, but it doesn’t mention coming all the way from Surrey:

    Regardless, Ron, your legacy lives on, and your voice will be remembered forever young. May the Lord bless you and keep you.

    1. I suggest going to the Police detachment that issued the police and asking a few old timers If they were there or remember the specifics?
      But either way it was foolish to go out in those conditions with a bicycle or a motorcycle. I can only assume he had already been celebrating and so had poor judgement at the time? I speculate of course but in the absence of complete facts we are always left to fill in the blanks.
      I saw them just once and now that I think about it I forget where I shot this picture?
      Yes,his legacy of course is the music. Each of us leaves a bit of our soul behind for those who loved us.

    2. He wasn’t riding from Surrey. Al picked him up in Surrey and was driving him to Kits, when they were driving down Kingsway Ron wanted to ride his bike the rest of the way for exercise. It was a bicycle not a motorcycle. He was hit in the 2700 block Kingsway. He was initially taken to Burnaby Hospital. They didn’t find anything wrong with him so he was discharged. He became abusive due to the blood clot on his brain, police thought he was drunk so they took him to the cells. The next morning he was unresponsive so was brought back to Burnaby Hospital. They didn’t have a brain scan machine so he was transferred to VGH. They operated to remove the clot but it was too late. He never regained consciousness.

  14. I’m 60 now. I was a huge fan of Prism in the late 70’s. Just re-listening to the See Forever Eyes album and really appreciate the lyrics and the vocals. I probably heard about Al’s untimely death all those years ago but just didn’t register tbh. Just really glad that I still have all those early Prism albums. Always hear about all of the great Canadian bands (Tragically Hip for example) but never hear Prism in the conversation. Not sure why.

  15. I am a big Prism fan and still have the records I bought in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I like Prism best with Ron as the singer. I still have the full newspaper that announced his death. It was front page with a picture of him.

  16. I recall my sister meeting Ron back in the early 80’s in a night club the day before they played in Edmonton. Ron seemed to be quite smitten with my sister and asked her to come along on their tour but she turned him down. He even gave all of my brothers a back stage pass for the concert but my sister wouldn’t let us take them. The following day after the concert Ron came to our home and my brother took him flying in single engine airplane. I tagged along and was awed with meeting him, I was only 18 at the time. So sad to hear Ron passed away so tragically and before his time. RIP Ron I love his music to this day!

    1. I partied with him in Edmonton a long time a go. Hell of a nice guy. Unfortunate what happened to him SMH! I still think the cops had something to do with his death.

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