Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Singing Cowboy puts retirement on hold

Benalla's John Arandall has come back from retirement to continue performing at aged care facilities.

MONIQUE FREER August 13, 2014 11:00pm

John Arandall, the "Singing Cowboy", made a return from retirement this week to continue performing free concerts at aged care facilities.

After nearly two years of retirement Benalla’s ‘Singing Cowboy’ has overcome arthritis to make a comeback in the entertainment industry.

John Arandall, better known as the ‘Singing Cowboy’, performed in aged care centres for nearly 25 years before putting away his guitar two years ago.

‘‘I’ve got chronic arthritis right through my body and I was finding it very difficult to play guitar,’’ he said.

‘‘But after nearly 25 years I can’t just give up without a fight.

‘‘I did a show at Violet Town aged care centre two weeks ago and it was an absolute smash.’’

He made his return to Cooinda Village on Friday and was met with great enthusiasm from the residents.

‘‘The main reason I do it is that I’m passionate about old people,’’ he said.

‘‘I love to entertain old people; when you get a smile it’s worth it.’’

Mr Arandall has been performing voluntarily at Cooinda Village for more than eight years and refuses any payment for his time.

‘‘I can’t get paid any more than coming to a place like this,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s about the older people getting some enjoyment.’’

He started performing in the Mornington Peninsula suburb of Dromana almost 25 years ago, when he saw a sign at an aged care facility advertising for a piano player.

‘‘‘I ain’t got no piano, but I got me guitar’ I told them, and that was it,’’ he said.

‘‘I did a show there every week for five years.’’

It was at Dromana that he met his wife Gayelene, who was working as a nurse at the time.

He had written a song ‘‘You’re the Nearest Thing to Heaven’’ and said he was looking for the person to sing it about.

The pair has been married 18 years.

Mr Arandall’s shows are a mix of old-style country music and early rock-and-roll, drawing on musicians such as Creedence Clearwater Revival, Johnny Cash, Ricky Nelson and Buddy Holly.

‘‘When you are performing you have to be able to cover everything from Amazing Grace to Heartbreak Hotel,’’ he said.

In 2012 Mr Arandall was nominated for the Victorian Senior of the Year Award for his work with senior citizens.

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