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My Aspen: John Oates

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer (and local) John Oates shares his in-town faves.

Richly Inspired

I come up with song ideas when I’m just zoning out. I was riding up Buttermilk with a friend, and this gal who looked very L.A. was hiking down. I thought of the line ‘trophy bride on a trophy ride.’ It spurred the whole idea for the song ‘Color of Love’ on my album Phunk Shui.

Possession Obsession

I always bring hiking poles. I started a few years back, and it’s changed everything, putting less stress on my knees. They’re indispensable. Black Diamond Distance FL trekking poles, $130, Ute Mountaineer, 210 S. Galena St., 970.925.2849

Easy Riding

When I’m not that fit, I ride the bike path [Rio Grande Trail] to the Monastery and back, or up to the Maroon Bells. If I’m in shape, I’ll ride McClain Flats up to the Bells, then up to Ashcroft and back to Woody Creek. I like creating a loop out of all those great rides.

Guitar Hero

I have jammed with various bands through the Belly Up (450 S. Galena St., 970.544.9800), like Donavon Frankenreiter, the Meters and Tab Benoit. I got onstage with Train at JAS last year (shown here), and then I went on a [music] cruise with them this winter.


I’m doing a cool show at the [Aspen] District Theatre (335 High School Road) on Aug. 10. It’s a songwriters in the round with Emmylou Harris and Shawn Colvin. It’ll benefit the Friends of the Aspen Animal Shelter and Emmylou’s dog rescue in Nashville.

Chilling Out

The Woody Creek Tavern (2858 Upper River Road, 970.923.4585) is the only place in the world I have a charge account. That’s a huge status symbol. I like the chicken enchiladas and the smoked trout. They have the greatest ‘secret’ soup in the world, but I’m not going to tell you what it is because then I’ll never be able to get it again.

You’re as apt to find Woody Creek resident John Oates—one half of music duo Hall & Oates—on one of the local trails as you are onstage. Living here full time since 1988, Oates is an avid outdoors person, though these days he’s dialing it back. On Aspen’s hardcore fitness culture, he says. “I bought into it lock, stock and barrel. But I don’t have to push myself anymore to feel like I’ve accomplished something.” Along with Daryl Hall, Oates was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April. He just released his fifth solo album, Good Road to Follow, a three-disc set of collaborations that honors his folk and blues musical roots while adding a contemporary spin. Oates and his wife, Aimee, now split their time between their ranch here and Nashville, Tenn., but a permanent move south is unlikely. Says Oates, “There’s no place on Earth like Aspen, and I’ll never give that up.” Here, some of his favorites.