Thursday, November 06, 2008

Seattle's Beloved Tuba Man Silenced


Photo & Text Copyright 2008 Seattle Daily Photo. All rights reserved, including reproduction or republishing.

I took this photo I called "Tuba Dude" as a candid on August 17, 2007 while out photowalking along the Magnolia bluffs, so if it looks familiar, it's because you saw it here (original post). I saw this lone figure playing his tuba. After a time I walked around to his other side to see if I might get a shot from the front, and he noticed me at a distance and acknowledged my presence with a very warm smile and a nod "Hi!" and resumed playing to the Puget Sound. I had no idea who he was, but on hearing his very able chops thought he was possibly a local orchestra musician. Seemed a very normal and charming thing to play one's horn to the Puget Sound. My husband often took his sax to the marina near our house in Berkeley after work and played to the bay and the sunset in the open air like this. Maybe its just a musician thing. I didn't want to disturb him further, so didn't take that second shot. A photo friend seeing this shot shortly after I took it commented that wasn't this Seattle's "Tuba Man" that he often saw busking outside of sporting events? Ah, yes, that's him, someone else confirmed. A beloved Seattle character familiar to thousands (except me). Several months later I was at my mom's when she was watching a television program in which his story was featured. His name is Ed McMichael. I learned that he's sort of a Seattle legend: everyone knows and loves him. After just one beautiful smile and "Hi!" from him, I could see why. Yesterday I learned that this gentle, sweet musician had been beaten and robbed by 5 youths on Mercer Street on October 25. He was treated at Harborview Hospital and released two days later to go home under the care of his brother. He passed away in his sleep early November 4th due to his injuries. He is remembered fondly by a city to which he gave so many happy moments and years of musical joy and friendliness.


There will be an informal gathering outside of McCaw Hall this Saturday morning at 11 AM at which all musicians who would like to play in memory of Ed may join in the playing of Taps, Tequila and the University of Washington Fight Song. I have a feeling it will be quite a tribute orchestra.

23 comments:

USelaine said...

You honor him with this beautiful photo. What an awful end.

Steffe said...

Very sad to hear this. Nice tribute to the "Tuba Dude".

Kate said...

It's disheartening to hear of this incident re. the beating. I wonder when this kind of behavior will end, and so sad because youths were involved. It's a terrible way to leave the world. Am pleased that others, more caring and sympathetic, will honour this ma, and thank you for doing this in your post!

Bibi said...

This is, first of all, a lovely photograph. I am so saddened by the fate that befell this musician. Whatever prompted, if anything, the hoodlums who committed such an act is unpardonable. I hope they have been apprehended and brought to justice.

Virginia said...

A heartbreaking story but your tribute was perfect. God bless this kind and talented man.
V

Live More Now (LMN) said...

What a heartbreaking story. Thank you for your remembrance of him. Such a loss of spirit and joy that this man brought to those around him. I hope the criminals are found and prosecuted to the full extent of the law for such a mindless crime.

jelvistar said...

I was so saddened to hear of his death. He would play the WSU Cougar fight song on his tuba every time they played at Qwest field. Great capture and post.

Port Angeles Daily Photo

Jilly said...

What an absolutely appalling story. This poor man - this lovely man - and such a dreadful end. You read of this sort of thing everywhere - in so many countries. I'm really sorry. Your tribute to the Tuba Man is beautiful. I hope he's in a better place surrounded by dancing tubas.

Leave Your Mark Photography said...

Kim, this is such a beautiful photo, and a great tribute to such a kind and talented man. I too was saddened to have heard of his passing. Ed will truly be missed by all who had the pleasure of hearing him playing his tuba outside of sporting events. I have seen him outside a few Mariner's games and loved listening to him play his tuba. Rest in peace good buddy, your music has touched so many.

Tania said...

How awful! I do remember him playing outside as we all filed out of Safeco field. Did they catch those kids that did it?

Islipian said...

Oh, I love Local Characters. Very nice of you to commemorate him in this way.

Our most charming "Characters" are "Homeless Shopping Cart Guy," and "Garbage Picking Recycling Guy." Not quite as charming as Tuba Dude.

figure8studio said...

I came to my blog to write about Obama's victory and noticed the caption of your image, I love looking at your images so I linked to your blog. I was shocked when I learned that I knew this musician you wrote about.

I will put off my Obama post for now to write a little memorial of my own to the man whom I owe many smiles to.

Thank you for your sweet image of him.

Katie said...

How incredibly sad and horrifying. Tuba Dude sounds like he provided joy to so many people, and had such fun playing his tuba. A real tragedy that his life was taken from him by a bunch of punk kids. Your photo of him just breaks my heart. I'm sure this was a hard post to do, but thank you for doing it. Very nice tribute.

Kris said...

I'll join in the chorus and add that it is indeed a great tribute, and also express my dismay to hear what has actually happened.

Sometimes this world of ours really is a dreadful place.

Small City Scenes said...

A sad tale indeed. I remember this fellow. You made a nice tribute to him. MB

Marcel said...

A very sad story.

Christina SEA said...

When I first saw this photo, my first thought was this looks like the same person who plays the tuba outside before the Mariners and Seahawk's games. Then as I continued to read, it was in fact the same person. Then, how sad he was beaten up by 5 kids, taken to Harborview, only to be released and pass away a few days later.

He will be missed by those that knew him, and also by those who "expect" him to be outside the stadiums playing before and after the games.

jill said...

A very nice tribute Kim to a kind and gentle man. What a sickening story.

Maya said...

Oh, that is horrible! Your photo captures his beauty.

raf said...

He will be missed! Can't remember in recent decades attending any sporting event in Seattle that Tuba Man wasn't seen or heard going into or coming out of the venue. So very sad.

Mark said...

I'm gonna miss this guy. My friends and I all called him marching guy. Whenever we would go to a sporting event you could always find him marching in the stands to the music that played in between the action. There were even times when we decided to go were he was and join in on the marching. My next sports outing you'll find me marching for him.

Becky said...

Stories like this infuriate me. Why is it that people feel the urge to injure someone as harmless as "tuba dude?" Why do they need the "thrill" of harming - and killing - someone who is so beloved in the community?

I know the answers to these questions, but I can't help asking them again and again, because the answers aren't any better than the story itself.

Thank you for this beautiful tribute image to a man I love...but have never met save through your blog. Thank you for the introduction.

Kate said...

Kim, The NYTimes today(Friday, Nov. 14) has an article about Tuba Man's death and memorial. Thought you'd like to know.