'We're just crushed'

'We're just crushed' »Play Video
Tuba Man Edward McMichael. (Photo: Scott Eklund / Seattle Post-Intelligencer / 2007)
SEATTLE -- Everybody knew Ed McMichael, and almost all of us enjoyed his work.

But hardly any of us knew his name until this week, when we found out that the quirky Seattle icon died Monday night after a brutal beating at the hands of five juveniles.

He was known as "The Tuba Man," and he called his tuba "his baby." He used the instrument to entertain tens of thousands.

McMichael was everywhere -- Safeco Field, Qwest Field, Key Arena, even the Opera House. He'd sit there and blow that tuba for hours so that your walk to the ball park or the stadium or the symphony was just a little more enjoyable.

He'd play anything, from The Beatles to Beethoven, with happy music after wins and dirges after losses. He did it for spare change and for smiles.

On October 25, near a bus stop on Mercer Street, five teens attacked The Tuba Man as he was walking home. They kicked and beat him and tried to rob him.

A police officer drove up to the scene and saw McMichael in the fetal position trying to protect himself.

"The officers were able to capture two of the juvenile suspects, unfortunately three of them got away," said Seattle police spokesman Mark Jamieson.

He was treated at Harborview Medical Center and sent home. McMichael was recovering at the Vermont Inn where he lived when he died two nights ago.

"He was just the kind of person you'd warm up to real easily -- just a big heart," said friend Ronny Chesvick. "We're just crushed."

He was a quirky, offbeat part of the Seattle experience. He played from the heart and never hurt a soul.

Going to a ball game in Seattle will never be quite the same.

Memorial Fund Established

Go to any Bank of America branch and you can donate to the Edward "The Tuba Man" McMichael Memorial Fund or send checks and money orders made out to Edward "The Tuba Man" McMichael Memorial Fund to PO BOX 4985, Federal Way, WA 98063.

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Also check out Tuesday's edition of The Commentators, where John Carlson and Ken Schram dedicated nearly the entire show to a reflection about the "Tuba Man," featuring thoughts and remembrances from callers throughout the area.

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Area musicians are invited to bring their instruments for a musical remembrance of "The Tuba Man" on Saturday, November 8 at McCaw Hall. Details: http://www.riptubaman.org/

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The Seattle Sounders FC says a public celebration and memorial event to honor McMichael will be held at the Qwest Field Events Center on Wednesday, November 12 at 6:30 p.m. The event is free and those attending can park in the North Lot of Qwest Field.

Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., and entry will be at the marquee entrance off Occidental Avenue.