Family, fans say goodbye to beloved 'Tuba Man'

Family, fans say goodbye to beloved 'Tuba Man'
SEATTLE -- While he touched thousands of lives with his simple tunes, those close to the man most of us knew as "The Tuba Man" held a very small, private memorial service in Shoreline on Wednesday to say goodbye.

A larger, public memorial for Ed McMichael was also held at Qwest Field Events Center on Wednesday night to give hundreds of fans their chance to bid farewell to their beloved musician.

The Seahawks organization hosted the tribute to the town legend. Mariners President Chuck Armstrong said McMichael never failed to make a loss a little easier to take.

"Because tomorrow always offered a new chance and before now, you could be sure that Tuba Man would always be there with a song and a smile," he said.

"This was a simple man who just loved people, loved music, and loved the interaction of the two," said KOMO commentator Ken Schram.

Ed's brother, Kelsey McMichael, who lives in Florida, said he wasn't aware of his brother's notoriety here.

Ed "The Tuba Man" McMichael

"It's hard to describe. To us, Ed was just a brother and a tuba player," he said. "But for some reason, the city picked on Ed as their symbol."

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

The Tuba Man 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.

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

Three teens have been arrested in connection with the attack, and investigators are looking for two others.

McMichael's death brought an outpouring of grief from local residents who remembered him as a fixture outside sporting events and concert halls.

On Saturday, a group of musicians gathered outside McCaw Hall to play their instruments in McMichael's honor.

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," said William Patrick Kiley, his longtime friend. "And he gave his highest price in the end."

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.