THE ‘O’Connell Street Walking Dress Up Guitar Guy’ a.k.a. Romulus Romeo has been winning the hearts of commuters and passersby in North Parramatta with his outlandish performances.
Rain, hail or shine, Romulus performs in his outrageous get-up and salutes, waves, sings and tells jokes at the traffic lights.
In a routine reminiscent of funnier times, he could well be the legendary Benny Hill reincarnated and has become a novelty among drivers passing by during rush hour at North Parramatta.
And motorists, bus commuters, truckies, tradies and pedestrians love his performances which for many are the highlight of their day.
The social media messages flood in. For example:
‘To the Parramatta guitar man, thank you. I’m writing this on a rainy afternoon and yet I still get the pleasure of seeing this man, for the fourth time, dressed from beanie to footy socks in NSW blues gear, marching around North Parramatta with his guitar saluting at every bus he sees.’
So who is ‘The Guitar Guy’ a.k.a. Romulus Romeo, King of O’Connell St?
His name is Nick Henning and he is a reinsurance claims consultant specializing in audit wealth protection insurance claims.
Now, there is a serious side to Nick’s performances which has taken him from charming the commuters to treatment for a brain tumor which threatened his life.
And so he is using his growing urban profile to raise the awareness of this deadly disease for the Brain Tumor Alliance Australia, his primary charity.
Once a year, right there in O’Connell St, Nick takes off his Hawaiian Shirt, puts down the guitar and has an MRI scan at Superscan. Last week’s scan was clear which he said was “pleasing”.
He said the effect of his alter ego on the people of Parramatta as The O’Connell Street Walking Dress Up Guitar Guy a.k.a. Romulus Romeo had “far exceeded all the expectations I had for my little routine and it wasn’t something I set out expecting much from.”
Indeed, it has been so successful the Guitar Guy is one of the most recognizable characters in Parramatta.
“I even have people referring to me as an icon and a noun like that is a big compliment.”
Nick had dreams of playing professional baseball at one stage and he was and still is a massive Balmain Tigers fan. He even wrote two successful books on the Tigers which were the best selling Rugby League books on Amazon.
“I miss the Balmain Tigers days. Mark O’Neill is director of football at the Parramatta Eels and he was one of two players to play Balmain’s final game in 1994 and again in 1999 when they merged with Wests.”
Life on the street is mostly fun for Nick, but it also has its serious side .There is no better example to illustrate it than the events of April 15 this year when he saved a man’s life.
“It was Good Friday and he was moments away from gassing himself to death in his car parked on Dunlop St, North Parramatta,” Nick said.
“I sang to him with his car in view and he changed his mind. His daughter and ex-wife have told me all the details and I clearly remember meeting this gentleman. The details of his story make me cry.”
So, the next time you see a guy playing his guitar and waving in North Parramatta, you will know all about him.
Image: The Guitar Guy’ a.k.a. Romulus Romeo, King of O’Connell St.