“You’ll have to excuse me if I keep asking you to repeat the question,” says Colin.
While it’s not an uncommon statement from someone in their mid-70’s, Colin’s colourful life as a professional musician certainly adds weight to the request.
Born in Harvey in 1947 and spending much of his life in Bunbury, Colin calls himself a country boy at heart whose love for playing the drums happened purely by chance, thanks to his musician brother.
“My brother was over on the east coast and I went to visit him,” he said. “I jumped on the Indian Pacific train to begin my journey, and when I eventually arrived and stepped off the bus he handed me some drumsticks and told me to give it a go!”
At the time, Colin was 17 and thinking about a career as a mechanic. What started out as a two-week holiday to see his brother seamlessly turned into a five-year stint playing at several venues in and around Canberra, including the naval base. He then went on to study at the Canberra School of Music.
The brothers eventually returned to Perth and formed The Charles Denver Group (shortened to The Denver Group) in 1974. Colin laughs as he recalls how they decided on the band name. “We got the name “Charles Denver” out of the phone book!”
Playing all genres of music, the band wowed the crowds in several Perth and Bunbury hotels, pubs and clubs, including the South Fremantle Football Club when they won the grand final in 1980. It was during one gig at The Raffles when Colin met his wife.
As family duties called (Colin has two daughters and three sons), he settled into a job as an industrial chemist working for the federal government before changing tack and joining a well-established supplier of agricultural chemical products.
Years later and within a short amount of time, Colin separated from his wife and his health deteriorated, forcing him into retirement at the age of 68. The owners of the rental property he was living in decided they wanted to sell and, after having trouble securing another house, Colin found himself living in a caravan park before his daughter contacted St Bart’s.
Colin is now comfortably settled in our James Watson Aged Care facility, which is home to up to 40 men who have experienced, or are at risk of experiencing, homelessness.
“At least I’ve now got a roof over my head and someone to look after me if something happens,” Colin said.
And now, after 56 years’ playing the drums and nearing 75 years of age, Colin has turned his attention to relearning the piano thanks to a generous donation of a keyboard from Meath Care Retirement Village in Trigg. He says it helps keep both sides of his brain busy.
“Well, it’s good for the brain, not always so good for your ears,” he laughs.