Local musicians sound final note for 'Tuba Man'

Local musicians sound final note for 'Tuba Man'
SEATTLE - He was known for bringing a little music to the lives of sports fans at Seahawks and Mariners games - and even playing outside the Seattle Opera.

And this weekend, musicians made some music of their own to remember Ed McMichael - better known as "The Tuba Man" - who died late last month after a brutal attack by five teens.

 Ed "The Tuba Man" McMichael
They gathered Saturday morning at the Seattle Center, near the International Fountain and outside the Opera House.

And they played the songs that The Tuba Man played for us at events outside Qwest Field, Safeco Field, Key Arena and the Opera House.

In typical street musician fashion, anyone with an instrument was welcome to play. And plenty of others gathered to listen and sing along.

After a bugler blew "Taps," the gathering broke out into "When the Saints Come Marching In" - one of Ed's favorites.

"He's part of the community you hate to see go. This is what makes urban living urbane," says musician Jon Bigelow. "He was a real nice thing we had going on ... so we will miss him."

Ian Newhall, the man who played "Taps" and organized the come-one-come-all call for The Tuba Man, says: "I've never met him personally. But I've been to the opera. I've been to all the games."

"I've seen him around and knew of him and not having him not at the games is such a big loss we needed to do something."

And that something became a final tribute, outside the Opera House - one of Ed's favorite spots.

Says Gregg Dias says, "I've been an usher for Seattle Center for 20 years. ... He loved everybody because he was like our 12th man usher. He was the guy. He was our unofficial greeter."

"In fact at the end of the show, I would close the building and he would close the outside of the building we would usually leave at the same time," Dias remembers.

And they closed it out with Ed's signature song - "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" - and sang it for Ed one last time.

"He gave his whole life as a joy and happiness of his fellow man and he gave his highest price in the end," says William Patrick Kiley, his longtime friend.

Memorial Fund

A fund has set up to help with McMichael's funeral expenses. Go to any Bank of America branch and to 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 P.O. Box 4985, Federal Way, WA 98063.

Memorial event

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, Nov. 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.