Rocking life

20 December 2022

Lou Walters with his bass guitar

When Lou Walters moved to Parkside Village eight years ago, he envisaged a quiet life in his retirement. But for the talented rocker, life has always been a bit loud.

Since he was a young boy, music has been a big part of Lou’s world.

“My mum and sister played the piano growing up. I tried to get into it too, but I wasn’t very good.

“Then skiffle music and bands such as The Beatles, The Who and David Bowie came along and really popularised the guitar in the 1960s. I thought, ‘I’d quite like to give that a go!’

“And that’s where my passion for the guitar, and later, the bass guitar began.”

Lou and three friends formed the band The Columbians when he was just 16 years old. They became the resident band at the Auckland Jive Centre and covered some of the biggest hits of the era. Lou then went on to tour New South Wales with the renowned Laurel Lea.

“Touring Australia for three months doing what I love most in the world was the most fun I’ve had in my life. I got to travel to new places and experience things I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.”

So, when an opportunity came up to join the Auckland Mandolinata Orchestra three years ago, Lou jumped at the chance to bring his bass out
of retirement.

“I was walking home from happy hour one evening and a resident here at Parkside, Lauryn Pepperell, mentioned she played in an orchestra, and that they were looking for a bass player.

“I turned up to practice the next week and went from there.”

Joining an orchestra at 81-years-old hasn’t been without its challenges, but Lou has taken it all in his stride.

“I had to learn how to read music! Playing the guitar in the ‘60s you learn by ear as we didn’t have access to written music. I’ve also learnt to multi-task. One eye on the music, one on the guitar, and another on the conductor.

“It took a while and a bit of practice, but I think I’ve got the hang of it now.”

The orchestra, made up of the mandolin family and related instruments, takes audiences on a musical journey through classical European music to contemporary American, Latin and South American tunes.

“It’s a completely different genre of music to the rock and roll I used to play. But it tells its own story. I love it.”

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