The impressive story of Legacy Man, the eccentric roller skating musician of the Heights

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In early 2020, Heights citizens reported seeing an elusive man on inline skates playing a guitar, blasting music from a speaker and singing songs for passers-by.

Word has spread about the eccentric musician known as Legacy Man. Now, visitors to the MKT Sunset Market, which takes place every third Thursday, can see him perform his self-produced synthwave songs with original lyrics in English and Japanese.

Legacy Man, or Derek Cooper as he is known in his work as a chemical engineer, says his musical personality did not develop overnight, but was the culmination of a lifetime of personal development and curiosity. creative.

Derek Cooper’s musical figure skating is known as Legacy Man.

Trent Fuelin

“In seventh grade, I stumbled across a comic book store and found pirated Dragon Ball Z VHS tapes that were recorded from Japanese television,” Cooper recalls. “They were captioned and I was able to watch the show before it was dubbed into English.”

Tired of reading subtitles, Cooper used a tape and a set of books his grandmother gave him that taught Japanese phrases and he slowly began to learn the language on his own.

His adherence to the culture led to a love affair with Japanese rock music of the 80s and 90s. Cooper and his best friend Erik, both intrigued by the visual kei movement, decide to form a band.

“Erik bought a drum kit, I bought a guitar and I learned to play on my own,” he explains. “We finally started a garage band in high school with some friends.”

Derek Cooper's endurance-based hobbies, such as triathlons, have helped him prepare for the three-hour skating and dance musical sets he now performs in the heights.

Derek Cooper’s endurance-based hobbies, such as triathlons, have helped him prepare for the three-hour skating and dance musical sets he now performs in the heights.

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After graduating from the University of Texas in 2009, he put down his guitar, entered his full-time engineering job, and chose a new hobby.

“I started doing fun triathlons and eventually IronMan competitions with my dad while working offshore. I learned so much about myself and strengthened my body-mind connection. ”

Cooper married in 2014 and the couple welcomed twins soon after. Spending more time at home, Cooper returned to his musical roots.

“I started tinkering with production software and making electronic synthwave music. Synth is a revitalization of 80s pop sounds and I had been listening to this music for a few years.

The MKT Sunset Market in the Heights hosts Legacy Man at its monthly events.

The MKT Sunset Market in the Heights hosts Legacy Man at its monthly events.

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“I started making Legacy Man music in 2019 as a way to brainwash my sons to like the same music as me growing up,” Cooper says jokingly. “I had a drum machine, a few synths, and played guitar. In October 2019, I had a few songs that were pretty polite. My 2 year olds were having fits in the car, so I played one of my songs. They stopped, listened and nodded. Their reactions to my songs made me realize that I was on to something.

After rediscovering old roller blades he had received several Christmases before, Cooper strapped them up and Legacy Man took to the streets.

“I was skating on 8th Street and I don’t know what got into me, but I reached out and started singing my song in Japanese at the top of my lungs. It was so liberating, ”Cooper recalls. “For months I sang, skated, took mental notes on the changes I wanted and had fun.

Cooper’s alter-ego has an undeniable ability to bring joy to others.

Derek Cooper says his performances are meant to send energy and light to those who watch them.

Derek Cooper says his performances are meant to send energy and light to those who watch them.

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“At the start of the pandemic, people were walking around with their heads down, and through my IronMan training, by maintaining a high mental and physical state, I became hypersensitive to people’s energy. I was skating in front of someone and felt the need to stop and sing and dance for them. I would stop to talk to them or just skate. I don’t know why, but singing and dancing in the streets made people feel happy. I started to feel like this is what I’m supposed to do. When I was in Hawaii to compete in the IronMan World Championship I had an experience in the lava fields where I felt something was going to happen. I just needed to trust my instincts and I would find the right path. I have the same feeling every time I step out on my skates.


Legacy Man was soon invited to perform at the MKT.

“I do a three-hour set with my skates,” says Cooper. “It’s a question of endurance for me. For me to send energy and light, and for it to be real, it has to cost me something. I have to practice and put everything on the line for others and for myself. I keep moving my feet or playing my heart from 6 to 9 p.m. ”

Cooper emphasizes that his music is really meant for everyone. “Every time I skate and have fun, it’s a natural joy. I feel like I have an abundance of something inside of me. By sharing it with others it maybe inspires them, or sometimes I am in deficit of this light and I can tap into their energy. There is a greater purpose [for Legacy Man] and I’m right here for the ride.



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