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73-year-old Montgomery man earns spot in Senior Idol finals

Jorge Torrens performs annual telethAssociatifor Individual Development.

Jorge Torrens performs at the annual telethon of the Association for Individual Development.

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Updated: August 31, 2012 1:49PM

If at first you don’t succeed, this 73-year-old is proof trying again works.

George Torrens, of Montgomery, didn’t let his age get in the way of his aspiration to be a musician. He tried and tried and tried again, andwas in the finals of the seventh annual Senior Idol Competition.

The event was part of the Northeastern Illinois Agency on Aging Lifestyle Expo that took place in August. The singing competition was just one part of the two-day extravaganza that brought together more than 4,000 seniors to hear tips about health and wellness, watch educational seminars and listen to the Senior Idol Competition.

Torrens said he competed in the event last year but didn’t make the finals.

“I don’t get scared when singing, it is my passion. It felt real good,” he said of his recent performance.

The Montgomery resident has been playing music since he was a teen and has entered countless talent shows over the years.

“I have always loved to sing. When I was in East Aurora High School, (a teacher) encouraged me to sing. She was my inspiration,” he said of his high school music teacher.

Born in Puerto Rico, Torrens was brought to Aurora by his father when he was 15.

“Dad came to the U.S. with his company and traveled all over the country,” he said. “He settled in Aurora.”

The musician said he has worked as a member of different bands over the years, but found working with family too complicated.

“Now I play alone,” he said. “I learned the guitar and played in clubs.”

For a period of time, he said, he played in Nashville and has pictures of the famous musicians he played with to prove it. He’ll show them to you at his hot dog stand on the West Side.

He and his wife, Zita, made Montgomery their permanent home just two years ago, and together they run George’s Dogs, Laundromat and Car Wash at 1910 Plum St., behind Blockbuster at the West Plaza in Aurora.

“I sing while I make the hot dogs; the customers like it,” he said. “I have one guy who came in here to get a hot dog and found me singing. He went out and came back in with a harmonica, and we put the karaoke machine on.”

Reality singing competitions are nothing new to the musician. He was in line to play for a spot on the “X-Factor” show last season.

“I was standing in the rain. I had my ticket, but I got out of line to go buy some food or water. I lost my ticket, and they wouldn’t let me back in,” he said. “Even Simon Cowell said no, I had to have a ticket.”

He is looking forward to his upcoming audition for the 2013 season of “America’s Got Talent.” He said he will be going to tryouts in January.

Torrens said the important part of his life is that he is happy and likes the people he sees daily and those he entertains whenever possible.

The couple, who have been married 32 years, raised seven children and now boast 16 grandchildren.

He said it all goes back to Puerto Rico. “My mother always was singing, she loved to sing.”

Next up for Torrens is a performance in Joliet.

“I have been invited to bring my hot dog cart and sing at the Joliet market.”

He has several gigs at Elmer’s Doghouse, 1250 S. Broadway, Montgomery, too.

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