The High Colorful Life of Green Mountain Falls Beloved Cowboy Singer Ted Newman | Pikes Peak Courier

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In a dirt road town west of Colorado Springs, under a lime green awning and next to a sparkling stream, Ted Newman begins his routine.

“Hello everyone and welcome to Green Mountain Falls,” he told his audience while having breakfast at the Pantry Restaurant.

He has Aspen the yellow Lab at his feet, Pepsi by his side, guitar in hand. Locals and returning vacationers await the spectacle; Newman is a must-have with his cowboy hat and canine companion. His country songs accompany the morning as the cookies accompany the sauce.

This is a summer tradition that lasts almost two decades. Newman’s folk serenades and charms, making jokes along the way.

It begins with the usual line: “My only promise is that I’ll never play a song that I don’t know.” “

It is rare that he does not know a demand. It’s common for the requests to be Johnny Cash or John Denver, and those he knows intimately. He shared the scenes with the two legends. These are just anecdotes in a great colorful life story.

Just as Newman can recall some 500 songs he wrote and some 1,500 others, he remembers the years that saw him play football, dig ditches, oil roads, break horses, fly helicopters, go scuba diving and teach children to sing and adult men. how to dance, among others.

In his’ 80s, Newman’s memory is as clear as the stream here next to the pantry.

“I don’t know how he can keep track of all of this,” marvels his wife, Rosemary.

The Arizona couple spend their summers in Woodland Park, in a tiny cabin that’s more than a century old. Here, Newman recently took notes of his life – something for his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, he says. He listed the jobs he held.

“I think it’s somewhere between 150 and 175,” he says.

He adds with a wink, “They say, ‘What are you going to do when you grow up?’ I haven’t grown up yet.

The jobs date back to the 1950s, when young Newman saved up newspaper income to buy a trumpet. The family didn’t have much, a fact that only came to Newman’s mind as he got older, when he realized other families had cars and TVs, for example.

“But the family was strong,” Newman says. “And we had music.”

His father worked for the US Forest Service, teaching him what he needed to know about nature, while his mother taught him harmonies, which would be another passion for life. Ditto for her sister, a singer whose voice was recorded in a Phoenix studio for commercials.

In 1957, an engineer at this studio asked a teenage Newman to work on a song called “Plaything”. This coincided with obtaining a scholarship for Newman to play football at Arizona State University.

The song was a hit – a hit worthy of being opened for Johnny Cash and his band.

“Arizona State full-back is also a song star,” the headline read in The Arizona Republic.

Newman remembers being taken to 17 cities in 12 days. He remembers the “fiasco” that followed: contractual disagreements and promotional commitments that he was unable to meet.

“Everyone has their 15 minutes of fame, and I had mine before I was 19,” Newman says. “I had everything, then I had nothing.”

He was naive in the music business, as he was in college athletics forbidding him to make money like he did (he just had to buy his parents a car and TV, he says. ). He lost the scholarship but gained essential wisdom from a coach, Dan Devine.

“One day, during a visit to the campus, he said to me: ‘Football is good, and it’s a good way to go somewhere, but the most important thing is to learn. , to be able to enjoy life, ”says Newman. “I took it with me.”

Where Newman couldn’t afford to get an education in a school, he would get it by working and traveling. He worked on a ranch and worked in construction. He took children on horseback rides and hikes. He would leave Phoenix for Colorado Springs to teach dance at The Broadmoor for a summer. He would go back to Arizona to sing with a choir.

He was devastated after this brief stint with Cash. But no, Newman hasn’t lost his love for music. He formed a folk group with friends.

“Then we got wild hair to go to Europe,” Newman says.

They performed where they could, made money, ate and slept where they could. It was in 1961.

“I was in Berlin a week after the wall was built,” Newman says. “I went to the eastern sector, and it really opened my eyes. In addition, we had been to Spain, where (Francisco) Franco was in power. He was a very firm dictator. I also went to Dachau.

It all made her think of freedom and the struggle for her. He joined the army as a pilot. After two years of active service, he continued to serve in the Arizona National Guard through the 1960s and 1970s, sometimes saving people from flooding.

All the while he tried to maintain a musical career. He played and started a family with a woman he married.

A household name was inscribed in her daughter’s baby book: John Deutschendorf, better known as John Denver.

Newman played bass alongside Denver for weeks of concerts in Arizona. Newman doesn’t speak publicly about his time with the stars – “I respect people’s privacy,” he says – but it’s obvious Cash and Denver let him feel the opposite of envy.

With Denver, “then again you get so big and so busy,” Newman says, “and everyone wants a piece of you, and you forget who you are and where you’re from. I realized how many people there were on the outskirts who shouldn’t be there.

He began to think he should be somewhere else as well. Tired of singing and playing guitar six nights a week, he took a construction job in New Mexico, where he later worked at a green chili processing plant. Here he also embarked on a new career as a school teacher which would be the proudest job of his life.

But there was also deep sorrow in New Mexico. “This is where the marriage kind of fell apart,” Newman says.

Back in Arizona, a woman in her high school years was encouraged to call him. She felt lonely after her divorce.

“We both said we would never get married again,” says Rosemary.

And Newman said he would never dive into music again. And yet there was Rosemary, telling her he couldn’t stop.

He wrote her a song: “I love you because you like to walk in the rain. I love you because you are not afraid to cry when you are in pain. … You are not afraid to love me, that’s why I love you.

They married in 1991. They pursued what made them happy, such as scuba diving along the coasts of Hawaii and Mexico.

Newman returned to Arizona, where he incorporated his songs into the classroom. The children repeated after him: “There is no one in the world like me. … It is better, you see, that I become the best of myself. … The best thing for the world, you see, is to be the best of myself.

For the past 20 years, his voice has been heard throughout the Pikes Peak area, his home away from home and Rosemary’s. After entertaining at several local clubs and ranches, the Little Pantry, he says, is his last stop.

“It’s my 17th summer here,” he says. “Very soon, I’m going to run out of summers.”

He says it’s funny, not sinister. He has the prospect of death as just a part of life – the prospect of someone who spends a lot of time around death.

He and Rosemary are longtime hospice volunteers. She comforts her as she knows how to do, while he does the same as he knows how to do, through the song. He sings patients their favorite song.

“By working with people in palliative care, you get a completely different view of death and dying,” he says. “I don’t have a death wish in any way, but I don’t care.”

No need to worry, he said. No need to dwell on the future. That’s the message from her opening song at the Pantry this morning.

“Live today, love today,” he sings. “Do all you can to make your way, so when it’s over you can say, I really lived my life today, I really lived my life today …”

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