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When GOHAWKSGO published “There’s Music In The Air” in 2004 I was missing from the list. And ever since, I have been thinking to myself “Why didn’t you submit your story?”, and ever since starting this website I have been meaning to do just that…. Now, after 14 years, it is time to write the Sunset Cowboy Story
I have used Mark’s original questions for this project.
How did you find the Oldies room (The Prologue)
Two things came together. After my daughter was born in 1997, I had a talk with the boss at work, and we agreed that I could work the late shift at work for the first few years, givig my wife the chance to work during the day, when I would take care of the baby. Well, this meant of course, that I got home nights at 2 a.m. German time, which was 8 p.m. New York time – the best time for the Room… but more of that later.
At about the same time I signed up with AOL, there weren’t many alternatives at the time, and set off on my journey through the internet. After a lot of consideration, I decided to call myself the Sunset Cowboy in reference to a song dedicated to my favourite guitarist Les Harvey, who was tragically electrocuted on stage in the 70s.
I wrote a song called Sunset Cowboy
20 years later I would become Facebook friends with the writer of the lyrics of this song, Colin Allen, who was drummer with Stone The Crows, the band in question. Seeing the name Sunset Cowboy on my Facebook profile, he remarked, “wow what a coincidence. I once wrote a song called Sunset Cowboy” no coincidence Colin..
So, armed with my new computer and access to the Internet, I started looking around for something to do. I went through a number of Chatrooms, starting with the British ones and moving as far as Australasia. But they all bored me to be honest. Everyone was so occupied with themselves, it resembled more a group of people just talking to themselves.
And then I found this Chatroom in America called AOL Music Oldies Chatroom. Well, let’s have a look shall we… I noticed almost at once that this was a obviously group that knew each other. It moved at a speed that was unbelievable. And I said something – and somebody answered, a completely new experience for me. And I thought to myself, wow this is great…. and there it started, and I never looked back.
What is your favorite type of music.
There is no doubt that I learnt to love music through my mother. I remember vividly sitting with her in front of the TV or the radio in the 60s, listening to the Beatles “world famous”, or the Kinks “very clever” and many many more artists. amazing how I can still recall the comments she gave on these bands! I began buying my own records in 1965 when, at the tender age of 7, I bought Good News Week by Hedgehoppers Anonymous. Over the next few years I enlarged my singles collection, until the beginning of the 70s, when I started on the big guns – the albums!
It all started with Slade, who I heard for the first time in a fairground on the coast (Withernsea UK, to be precise) where I had travelled with my Grandmother, who had relatives there. Slade Alive was the first album I bought. It was followed soon after at Christmas by “Tomorrow Belongs To Me” from The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, who I had seen earier in the year as special guests to Slade. I mellowed somewhat after hearing Stone The Crows on the TV on “Sounding Out”, I believe it was called. And I rushed out to buy everything I could find by Maggie Bell. In hindside, that chance listening to a show on the TV would change my taste in music forever, as I branched out into other fields.
Nowadays I just listen to good music. I have branched out into Blues, Soul, even touching Jazz on the edges; never however forgetting my roots. There is for example a very vibrant music scene in Germany if you dig a little under the surface. For although the Germans have perfected commerce in music, still the German public really appreciate good music. Contemporary German artists like Miu and Jessy Martens are doing some really great stuff, and going back in time a little, we have the wonderful voice of Astrid North during her time with Cultured Pearls. Going back even further, who could forget Inga Rumpf?
I do tend to turn my nose up at commercial music (something that gets more extreme, the older I get), which means that I have not followed a lot of todays legends from the past.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in an industrial part of Yorkshire, UK, which was famous for the first mass fabricated recycled textiles in the world (know as shoddy). After leaving school in 1976 England was heaving under the weight of industrial strife, and left with no option, I left the country for Germany, intending to spend 12 months there tuning up my knowledge of the language and earning a bit of cash, which would make me a rich man when I returned to the UK. It never happened, of course, I am still there more than 40 years later. I married a Turkish lass, and am still with her after 33 years. I have 2 kids, Danny, a computer scientist, and Selina, who is currently in the land of her fathers, studying Graphic Design at Leeds. I also have two Grandchildren.
Just turned sixty a few weeks ago, I have a few years left before I can sit back and enjoy life to the full.
What were some of your favorite moments over the years.
I think the first few months in the Chatroom were unbeatable. I would literally sit at my desk in the middle of the night rolling with laughter at the antics, but trying hard not to wake my family at the same time.
My first online “friend” was Sundays Child aka Sunny Skyes. We struck it off well from the very beginning. After a while we agreed to talk to each other on the phone, which in hindsite was probably a mistake. Its one thing to be chatting to people on AOL, but phoning them is something else. I soon noticed on the one time we did phone, and I suppose she did too, that we really had nothing to say to each other. It was a strange atmosphere, somehow. And in consequence the telephone call was a fairly short one. Soon after she got to know a fellah in the real world, and slowly faded from the room without a trace.
After getting to know a lot of people in a relatively short space of time, you get to a point where you imagine what these people look like. They were all good looking of course, but when it got to the point of exchanging photos you get the realisation that they look nothing like you imagined. for instance, I always imagined GOHAWKSGO to be a giant of a man with a big booming voice. I think his screenname, and the fact that it was in capital letters may have something to do with that.
Its a little difficult to talk about favourite moments, as it was all fun as long as it lasted. Of course there were the room parties, they were always a highlight. Little did we know then that dark clouds were approaching…
Have you attended of the parties or met any of the roomies in person ?
I think it must have been in 2000 when I first heard of Hugyfest. I knew that quite a lot of the roomies were away over the weekend to some party or other, but I hadn’t taken too much notice, as I was far too far away to even think about it. So there I was sat at my computer one saturday evening when Orangek31 came through via IM and started chatting with me. Gwiththec joined in. They told me all about the party and how much they were enjoying it. Other roomies joined them and said hello. And thus my attention turned towards this event I hadn’t known up to now.
It must have been several months later that I got to know Rob (Grtststory). We struck up quite a friendship over the next months, and he announced that he was going to Hugyfest 2001. This was the year of course that over 100 roomies attended – even room snert MDN attended – and so much fun was obviously had by all, that I decided, that one day I would also travel to Reading PA to take part in this celebration.
Coincidence helped me out the following year. For the last years I had partaken in a savings scheme at work with a view of buying share of the company when the scheme came to fruition. As luck would have, 2002 was the year that we had the choice to either buy the shares, or get the money back with interest. Well, me, I thought, I’m going to Hugys!! I had spoken about this a few months previously with a chap from Bavaria called Peter whom I ironically got to know in the room, and we agreed to fly out together. And to make sure things run smoothly he came up from Nuremberg to Hamburg to spend a couple of days with me so that we could get to know each other properly. This was no problem of course, as Peter is an easy going friendly chap.
You don’t know these people, they might be a religious sekt
My family however weren’t all that happy with my plans, especially my mother. “You don’t know these people, they might be a religious sekt”. Ah, come on mother, I’m sure I’m old enough to look after myself…. I couldn’t convince her though.
The idea was to meet up with Peter in Amsterdam, and then fly to New York City for a few days, where we would meet up with Rob, who would show us around the city, before we would all drive down to Reading together with Edna, who was to meet us in NYC the day we drove..
All of a sudden all hell was let loose
However, this was the time where the dark clouds I was talking about further up started to close around us. All of a sudden all hell was let loose and the room was split right down the middle. People who had up until recently laughed with each other and had a good time togehter, were suddenly worse enemies and were going at each others throats. It really was painful to see two friends attacking each other. I will not go into this any further, I have heard a lot of tales on the whys and wherefores, but I’m not in a position to judge. And I really have mentioned this only because people, and a lot of them I desperately wanted to meet, started cancelling their trips to Hugyfest. At the end of the day we were down to about 35 participants, a lot of which I had never heard of. ultimately it made no difference, for I made some real friends in Reading. But on the other hand I never got to meet some people with whom I was really friendly.
The Trip started with a bang, as Peter’s suitcase didn’t arrive at the airport. And so we made our way to what Peter would call the Psychedelic Hotel perked on the northernmost point of Central Park in Harlem, so called because of the many bright colours it was painted in. In spite of the appearance though, it was actually spotless. peter’s suitcase arrived in the dead of the night, so everthing was set up for our holiday.
They didn’t have desserts, they had shots
The highlights of the week were running around the city with Rob, eating Soul Food (delicious), Chinese Food (a whole chicken in a bowl), German Food (after travelling half the way around the world). Later at Hugyfest Rob would complain “They didn’t have desserts, they had shots”. They’re called digestives, Rob! In his defense however, he was very much into fitness in those days (maybe he still is, I don’t know), and while me and Peter enjoyed our beer, he was on turnip juice. Poor lad, he could never understand it…
Even in New York we met up with other Oldies who were not going to the party. Terrilee and Dr. Kill came all the way down from Boston to our hotel just to see us. That’s how deep the friendships had become, and we also met up for a day with another Roomie called Brooklyn something… the whole name escapes me. Another lovely lady though, we spent a great day at Madame Tussauds.
The day before we were due to travel to Reading, Rob decided that he was going to sleep in our hotel room on the floor. And thus he was found by Edna, who arrived at our hotel very early the next day after a sixteen hour round trip on the bus.
We arrived at the hotel. Sat on the fence the first person who arrived was CCR4EVER, whose shyness we at first mistook for arrogance. But she turned out to be a lovely girl after the ice had been broken. As we all know she was very young at the time, which was an amazing feature in the music oldies room that people of all ages could chat and intermingle without any problems. Sev arrived, a chap I had previously never heard of. But he was such an open, friendly and honest character that we hit it off together almost at once.
What can I say about Hugyfest itself? So many beautiful people gathered together to celebrate the music that we all love. The stories have all been told of course, whether it be breakfast at Denny’s, the evening meal, the games in the cellar, or Peter’s brush with the law after he was caught watering the plants in the hotel garden in the middle of the night. These events are all legendary and will never be forgotten by anyone there. I don’t want to mention people, because I am sure I will forget some, but I can never thank Barb and Tom enough for this occasion which has given me memories that I will carry with me forever.
The Music Oldies Room collapsed in chaos a couple of years later, but none of us, who were part of it, will forget the good times… ever! I was only lucky enough to go to Hugyfest, but others played their part too, be it ROCN60s BBQ, TEX Fest, or any of the other parties. The all played their part it making this community of music lovers from all over the world unique!!
Why going to Hugyfest was a mistake – the epilogue
Before embarking on this adventure I said I thought I was making a mistake. If I went this year, I would want to go every year, and that wasn’t possible. Well, I was right. I never managed to get back to Hugyfest, but the memories of a fantastic journey to NYC and Reading will stay with me forever.