John Oates, telemark skier, the box set and the bomb

Posted By: Steve Bellamy on October 9, 2009 8:38 am

You had your first kiss listening to him whale on barr chords. “You Make My Dreams Come True” was on in the background when you chugged your first beer.  It was halftime at a tailgate when your goofy buddy had his speakers on top of his Toyota Corolla station wagon jamming “Rich Girl.” Then you got to hear him sing the cool vocal part “rich girl ooh” while he manhandled the middle of the neck on his 70′s Fender Strat. 


We are of course talking about pop/rock/soul virtuoso, John Oates.  He is 50% of the most successful duo of all time, Hall and Oates.  John and Daryl Hall met at Temple University, where they formed the union.  They were signed by Atlantic Records in 1972 and went on to record 21 albums together which sold over 80 million copies and had 10 number 1 hits.  


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“Do What You Want Be What You Are” The music of Daryl Hall and John Oates arrives in stores on Oct. 13th.  Putting it bluntly, this box set has got to

be one of the greatest undertakings in the history of records.  Every Hall and Oates song you could ever imagine.  Live versions from all over the world.  Music spanning from 1966 to 2009 all layed out chronologically.  How they got all these labels together on this one is a Harry Houdini project.  There are Atlantic Records songs, RCA songs, Arista songs.  

Go watch some of their live videos and you will be amazed or re-amazed at how these guys perform.   No one does what they do.  Duos harmonize.  These guys echo each other.  They start on top of each other and then Daryl goes North and John goes South.  These are brilliant productions, brilliant songs and brilliant performances.  So before we get starting talking about what we are even more interested in – go buy this box set!  It is nothing short of a masterpiece. 



All right the opening is done and here is the headliner.  If you didn’t already know, John Oates is a lifetime skier and has been an Aspen resident for nearly 30 years.  Not only that he is a tride and true telemark skier.  We sat down with John and got the low down on his relationship with giant white hills.

Ski Channel:  So John, where and how did you get into skiing?

John Oates:  I grew up in Philly and started night skiing in the 60’s.  I remember we were on rope tows and had leather boots.  Then in ’67, I went to Colorado on a college ski trip.  I couldn’t believe how big the mountains were and I was just hooked.

Ski Channel:  You are an institution in Aspen.  Can you explain your relationship with the ski resort?

John Oates:  I remember I had a friend who lived there and had a house that was always empty.  He kept bugging me to use it.  I finally did right around the first or second year that Snowmass was open.   I was just blown away and really loved it there.  Then I met a girl who loved to ski and we started going together.  In the early 80’s, I bought a condo.  Before you know it, we had a child and the roots were planted.   Aspen is a great place to raise a child.

As far as the skiing, Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass…all this great skiing right here.  What I like mostly about the area is the relationship between inbounds and out of bounds skiing.  It is seamless.

Ski Channel:  Do you spend a lot of time in the backcountry?

John Oates:  Sometimes when I want some exercise, I’ll skin up and hit it.  But again there is so much lift serviced terrain to areas that are

like being in the backcountry, you don’t have to venture that far to get the most incredible skiing.



Ski Channel:  Do you hang with Mike Kaplan or Chris Davenport?

John Oates:  Those guys are great.  Mike got me a cat for a thing with Ski Magazine last year and Chris is a really inspiring guy.  My buddy helped him write the 14’ers book.

Ski Channel:  You are a telemark skier.  Obviously, a little more challenging – how did you become one?

John Oates:  In the 80’s I had a bunch of friends who were doing it and they kept pushing me.  Finally I tried it and I liked it.  I would go back and forth between alpine and telemark until the winter of ’93.  That winter, I just decided to go for it and only telemarked for the whole season.  That is what got me over the hump and I have been doing it fulltime ever since.



Ski Channel:  What do you ski on?

John Oates:  I have been on K2’s for quite awhile.  I ski on the K2 Anti Piste.  I have a pair of K2 World Piste’s, but I haven’t got bindings on them yet.  I love the skis and Mike Hattrupt over at K2.

Ski Channel:  Outside of Aspen, are there any places that you love to ski?

John Oates:  I love BC.  I actually was part of a group contemplating developing Revelstoke a long time ago.  I have heli’d and cat’d out there and it is just amazing.  Standing on top of Mount MacKenzie is like standing on top of the world.   I really want to go to Red Mountain or Island Lake Lodge.

Ski Channel:  Have you gotten Daryl Hall out on the slopes?

John Oates:  No he hates the altitude and never skis.  My solo band mates are all skiers, so that’s very cool.

Ski Channel:  Lastly, who are your ski idols? 

John Oates:  Well I am lucky enough to be friends with them.  Art Burrows is one of my good friends.  He is an inspiration.  Also, Ned Ryerson is a buddy.  These are some of the pioneers of telemark.

Ski Channel:  Thanks much and we’ll lay some tracks this season. 

Well there you have it.  One of the coolest cats in the history of the world.  Monster rock star, monster skier and a multi-decade mountain man.  Go buy the record!