Recollections of a Brisbane legend
George Kyprios was famous for cruising the streets of Brisbane in his 1952 Holden FX. Two of his neighbours speak to Neos Kosmos about their memories of the man known as Rock 'n' Roll George.
The memory of Rock'n'Roll George still lives on in the hearts and minds of many Brisbanites, but none more than his former neighbours Gunter Reid and Matt Eames.
Gunter Reid and Matt Eames moved in next door to George Kyprios (Rock'n'Roll George) in early 2005.
Little did they know that over the course of five years they would endure a tumultuous relationship with a cantankerous neighbour like George.
Rock'n'Roll George first gained notoriety in the 1950s and 60s when, as a young adult, he would cruise up and down Brisbane's Queen Street mall in his beloved 1952 Holden FX.
George, and his car, became a fixture in the 1950s Brisbane night life which was filled with bodgies and hipsters and he became instantly recognisable by his checkered shirt and purple trousers.
But the Rock'n' Roll George which Gunter and Matt knew was a different one to the energetic and extroverted one who would always be cruising down Brisbane's Queen Street.
As we sat over coffee and talked more about George Kyprios, the pair began to reminisce about a neighbour who was a no nonsense and upfront kind of guy straight from the get go.
"When we first met him, we had pulled into the house we were moving into on our scooters and he came out and said 'No don't park it there, don't park it there', even though we were clearly on our side of the house," Gunter laughs.
Of George's day to day habits and idiosyncratic behaviour, Gunter recalls a neighbour who was meticulous and had a set a routine with everything he did.
"He was meticulous, he would leave his house the same time every day and first thing in the morning we'd hear the counting (makes a knocking sound on the table) and then he'd lock the door when he left."
George's set routine and the sense of having everything done in a particular order is highlighted by the lengths he would go to to protect his beloved parking spot at the front of his driveway.
"I think we first noticed that with him when there were a group of young guys living across the street from us who really didn't give him much respect at all, and I felt like they purposely parked there just to get a rise out of him," Matt recalls.
"It would be 2 or 3 in the morning and if someone was parking there, he'd be knocking on people's houses trying to find out whose car it was and if they didn't move we'd have to go ask the person to move their car."
Although the pair admits to George being a generally private person, he would occasionally reminisce about the times he used go to Festival Hall to watch Freddy Sims box.
At first, Gunter was a bit dismissive of his Festival Hall rants, but as he met more and more elderly people from around Brisbane he began to put the pieces together.
"I used to think all of his stories were like, oh yeah, he's lost the plot a bit, but as I met older people from around Brisbane and asked them about him (Freddy Sims), they could confirm a lot of George's stories."
"I actually met Freddy Sims down at the Souths Leagues Club and when he told me his name was Fred and that he used to box I asked if his surname was Sims and he said yes, so that was pretty cool."
As Rock'n' Roll George's car became more iconic through the years, Holden would offer George a brand new Holden and sometimes even a house just for the 1952 FX model.
With the 1952 FX edition being the pride and joy of his life, both Gunter and Matt are quick to point out that selling the car would never have been an option for George.
"He loved that car like his first and only child and I know Holden offered him two brand new cars for it but that wouldn't have even been on the cards for him."
"I can still see him today if anyone got near his car, his spirit would be yelling out what are you doing, what are you doing," Gunter recalls laughingly.
When George Kyprios passed away on the 29th November 2009 aged 82, a city stopped and paid tribute to a man who had become a Brisbane icon.
People turned out in large numbers to see his 1952 FX Holden take one last lap through Queen Street.
When asked how George would have reacted to the media attention surrounding his passing, both Gunter and Matt agree that despite being a private guy, he would have secretly relished in the attention.
"He would have been excited, annoyed at the same time but whenever people would walk past and acknowledge him he would say, 'How does everyone know me?' But he kind of liked it deep down".
Who was George Kyprios?
George Kyprios, better known as Rock 'n' Roll George, was born in West End, Brisbane in 1927.
He was best known for driving his 1952 FX Holden up and down Queen Street.
George was an iconic image of Brisbane's days of rock and roll.
He used to drive from New Farm to Cloudland on Friday and Saturday nights to dance.
He earned the nickname of Rock 'n' Roll George after his friends made a rock 'n' roll license plate for his Holden FX which stayed on his car for around 50 years.
Kyprios was such a feature of Brisbane's landscape he inspired the 1960s song Rock' n' Roll George.
George Kyprios worked as a presser in a suit factory, at a luggage manufacturer at Albion and at the Golden Circle cannery before finishing his working life at the Government Printing Office.
He played rugby league at Davies Park, out on the wing, for Souths.
He died aged 82 on November 29, 2009.
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