John Oates remembers Hunter Thompson


John Oates — of Hall & Oates — was Hunter S. Thompson’s closest neighbor in Woody Creek, Colo., for the last decade of Hunter’s life.

“If you walk 100 yards ... you would walk directly into Hunter’s driveway,” says Oates, whose Hall & Oates performs Friday and Saturday at the Hard Rock Hotel.

“He’d have Monday Night Football, and he would invite certain people he thought were a good mix. He’d have writers. The local sheriff was his best friend. He’d have some local artists. Some drug burnouts.”

During commercials, Thompson would mute the TV, then interject a topic for everyone to bat around funny ideas and anecdotes.

When the commercials were over, everyone had to shut up for football.

Oates says Thompson was very engaging.

“When you were with him, one on one — and if he liked you — he was a very gracious, Southern gentleman,” Oates says. “He was very nice and polite and funny.”

But Thompson diligently curated that “Hunter Thompson persona,” Oates says.

“When he went out in public, he did his thing with the glass of whiskey, the cigarette holder and the whole routine,” Oates says, as we all know from Thompson’s classic gonzo book “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

Long ago, Oates penned a charming column for an Aspen magazine, detailing how he and his future wife moved to Woody Creek from New York in the early 1990s. While she and Oates were being shown the property, they heard a nearby 12-gauge shotgun blast from old Hunter.

“Now for most folks,” Oates wrote, “unexpected gunfire at close range during a real estate negotiation might be considered a deal breaker.”

But not for Oates and his wife. They had moved to the remote area for one reason: so they could have chickens.

In 2005, Thompson shot himself with a handgun after titling his suicide note “Football Season Is Over.”

Thompson’s end was grim. So let’s talk about music.

This year, Oates has released several singles with collaborators (Hot Chelle Rae and Vince Gill).

And how are Hall & Oates getting along in their 46th year as a duo?

“We’re getting along better than ever. Daryl and I — we’re like brothers. We don’t see each other all the time. We don’t need to. And then when we do, it’s very, very natural.”

He says their touring band is one of the best they have ever had.

“We put on a helluva show,” he says.

They should, with all those hits — “Rich Girl,” “Kiss On My List,” “Sara Smile,” “She’s Gone,” “You Make My Dreams,” “I Can’t Go For That,” “Maneater,” “One on One,” “Say It Isn’t So,” “Private Eyes” and “Out of Touch.”

“We’re selling out everywhere we go. It’s an insane Hall & Oates resurgence. That resurgence is something I never expected or counted on, but I’m enjoying it.”

COUGAR TOWN DOWN

It doesn’t pay to be a “cougar” or a “cub” who craves cougars.

Cougar International is shutting down soon. It’s a dating and chat site for young guys (cubs) and older women (cougars) to find each other.

The site even hosted a 2010 Cougar Convention at the Tropicana, featuring a Miss Cougar USA.

But the guy who started the site a few years ago just sent an email to followers, saying he has run the site at “great expense,” but he only ever received one financial donation, and he has never got “so much as a ‘thank you.’ ”

Pity the endangered cougar-cub ecosystem.

Doug Elfman’s column appears on Page 3A in the main section on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He also writes for Neon on Fridays. Email him at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.