Last night I stopped by Big Al’s Brewery in White Center. Jerome, working behind the bar, had a pitcher set up for tips. It’s a common sight in a pub; however, this tip jar was for the Tuba Man.
People who love beer often love sports. People who love sports in Seattle loved the Tuba Man. It goes beyond sports. Who amongst us doesn’t know what I’m talking about when I say, “Tuba Man?” He was ours. He personified the very best of what Seattle has to offer the world—kindness, innocence, entertainment. He wanted to make you smile.
I can still barely bring myself to think about the senselessness of his murder. I don’t know if I will ever again be able to hear Stairway to Heaven or Bohemian Rhapsody played on solo tuba without crying. That might sound funny. It might even make you smile. Don’t feel guilty. Edward McMichael (a.k.a. Tuba Man) would want you to smile.
The outpouring of emotion has been immense. When I first heard the news, Ken Schramm and John Carlson were reporting it on KOMO radio. They could barely contain their sorrow and anger. The Seahawks’ CEO, Tod Leiweke, publicly vowed that they would not only participate but would consider it an honor to be involved in any kind of fitting tribute to Tuba Man. Online, the story that Robert Jamieson wrote for the P.I. got more than 250 comments—ranging from rambling tearful memories to hateful cries for vengeance. This outpouring of sentiment comes from the broken hearts of a community that sorely lacks, but so greatly appreciates, the kind of spice that Tuba Man added to the chowder.
I pray that his family will donate his tuba to the only place it should rest—The Experience Music Project, in the museum, where it deserves a place behind glass in the Northwest Passage.
You can make donation to a fund for the services and relatives at any Bank of America branch. Donations can also be mailed to Edward the Tuba Man McMichael Memorial Fund, PO Box 4935, Federal Way, 98063.