Friday, 21 July 2000, a piece of Northwest Music History
is destroyed by flames, The Olympian.
Photo: The Olympian
HERE IS ONLY A SMALL SAMPLING OF THE MANY BANDS AND PERSONALITIES THAT APPEARED AT THE EVERGREEN BALLROOM OVER THE YEARS
The Andrews SIsters
Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers
Blood, Todd & Brain
Bobby Blue Bland Review
Jim Brady & The Sonics
Cindi & The Barons
Dick and Dee Dee
Bill Haley & The Comets
The Fourth Day
Don and the Goodtimes
The Jimmy Hanna Revue
Bobby & The Innkeepers
Royal Kings with Johnny Moore
Jerry Lee Lewis
Little Jimmy Dickens
Little Willie John
The Mercy Boys
Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels
Little Junior Parker
The Pied Pipers
Poverty's People (Poverty Five)
Paul Revere & The Raiders
Sir Walter Raleigh
Rapid Transit System (R.T.S.)
Joe Scott Orchestra
Irv Sholund Big Band
Sir Mix A Lot
Tiny Tony and the Statics
Hank Thompson and the Brazzo Valley Boys
Merrilee & The Turnabouts
Ike & Tina Turner
The 'Fake' Zombies
Courtesy of Bill Dean
Courtesy of Bill Dean
Reactions to the news about the demise of the Evergreen Ballroom:
Eric Predoehl, Producer: "Oh man, this is terrible news. I always wanted to go there, and see if I could find some old poster from the Bobby Bland/Jr Parker/ Etta James/ Richard Berry show, but I never got around to it."
Mike Dugo, Lance Records: "Looks like the Ballroom hosted many great garage bands. It's too bad another piece of history is no longer with us."
Stan Foreman, The Beachcombers: "A lot of memories for a lot of people went up in smoke in the blaze. The Beachcombers had played there several times in the '60's." Rich Liebe, The Regents: "Really sad. I remember seeing it when we went to AFKAD's sister's place last year. " Darryl Riffero, Pitchblende, The Train: "Sammy, I am sorry to say that the EVERGREEN BALLROOM is on fire as I type this. I can see the smoke in the sky east of where I live. What a shame." When reminiscing about the Evergreen... "It's funny because 3 or 4 times this year I got off of I-5 and took old Highway 99 just to drive by the Evergreen Ballroom, staring hard at it when I drove by... thinking of all the bands I saw there." (Darryl was the first to give us the news about this sad event). Steve Thurgood, The Continentals: "Not only have I seen the sadness in the pictures, I actually stood and watched as she was burning - I live... here in Olympia about three miles from the 'Green. No sprinkler system, no fire insurance, she's now gone!" Mark and Deb Lindsay: "gosh, we heard this on the radio, what a shame..." Lan Roberts , KJR DeeJay, among other things: Such a loss! Just the mention of places like "Spanish Castle" and "Evergreen Ballroom" conjure up many memories of great sounds and wonderful romances.
The Lan Roberts Unauthorized Web site
Tami McLoughlin-DeBellis: "I felt like a part of my youth went up in the flames." Gretchen Christopher: I wept when I read the eyewitness account of Darryl Riffero.
The Evergreen went down in flames and, with it, so much history, just a bit of which was The Fleetwoods' first of 15 albums, Mr. BLUE. For a long time that cover was displayed with the original vinyl LP, peeking halfway out of it, protected by a glass case. In the last years, it was just the cover of Barbara, Gretchen and Gary. Though the three of us never played The Green, I did performe there solo, before I put the trio together in 1958. There and at The Tropics Ballroom on the other side of Olympia. As I recall, they paid me $5 a song, to step up and do a few solos with the band, as a special appearance. In the Fifties, fifteen dollars was not shabby for a 16 year old singing three songs! And the thrill has never left, whether performing solo or as The Fleetwoods, on Dick Clark's American Bandstand or in an amphitheater before 109,000 fans in the rain.
As I recall, the last time I performed at the Evergreen Ballroom was the year before it burned. I was there with a partner for swing dancing; such fun. Lois, who had hired a Dixieland Jazz Band, asked me if I would be willing to sing a few numbers.
I was having a wonderful time dancing, but she rounded us up and spoke with the musicians at intermission, and we established that I would sing several numbers, including "Hard Hearted Hannah" and ending with "Bye Bye Blackbird", which I talked through for them. All the numbers went beautifully. To end, I started "Blackbird" and sang with great feeling as a ballad, then stomped my foot, kicked the band into double time, and we burnt up the boards joyously, all the way through; then the band took their solos, I took it through again, and out with a tag, "Bye, Bye!"
It was great to see the surprise and respect in their eyes. I like to think I gave them, and the crowd, something kind of special, one more memory at The Green. We'll miss it.
Gretchen Christopher, The Fleetwoods, February 2003
When Stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington from 1963 to 1965, my girlfriend took me to the Evergreen Ballroom to see Buck Owens (R.I.P). Owens was a new Kid in the entreatment field, a rising star. I Never forgot that in his chat with the audience he was a bit nervous, and stated how happy he was to be in the great city of Tacoma, till one of his aids let Buck know he was in Olympia. We all have lots of memories of this Ballroom in the Pines.
Nick Di Brino. Westchester County, New York, Aug 2005, May 2006.
My Dad played there in the 50’s and early 60’s. He was a trumpet player with various groups. In the late spring of ’62, he was hanging out in the bar and saw a women being harassed on the dance floor by a drunk “trying to make time with her”. She was beautiful – looked like Jackie Kennedy. So, he ran right out to save her – for which she was grateful. Her southern accent (she had just come here from Georgia) finished the enchantment. The rest is history – 44 years of marriage – my brother and me – and . . . Mom still looks like Jackie Kennedy.
I wish I had a picture of that place from the 60’s. I live just down the road from it now, but all I’ve ever seen is the pile of rubble.
Sheri (Core) Treinen, September 2006
I too have a lot of great memories of the Green. I spent many Saturday nights there back in the 1970's. I remember when Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels played the Green. Man that place was so packed you could hardly move. They had a little glass showcase in the entrance and Tommy Dorsey's business card was even in there. I worked at the Green as a custodian back in the 1980's for a while. I had to keep that huge wood floor nice and clean. I still have a piece of the original green siding from that building. It doesn't have a whole lot of the green paint left on it but enough so when I look at it it reminds me of what a great time those years were.
G. Hale, October, 2006
The wife and I went to see Ray Price at the Colonial theatre in Idaho Fall's, Idaho the 17th of April, and it brought back memories of seeing Ray Price at the Evergreen Ballroom in 1962 while I was in the service at Fort Lewis. I Also saw Hank Thompson and the Brazzo Valley Boy's, and Fat's Domino. I always asked folks about the Evergreen Ballroom and was saddened to find it had burned down... but what a run it had. The Evergreen has instilled a lot of fond memories in a lot of people.
Dennis Kennedy, Island Park, Idaho, April 2007
I learned about an historic double bill in the early 50's at the Evergreen Ballroom from local musicians Chuck Stentz and Bill Ramsay, who were there. Dave Brubeck (w/Chet Baker, Shelly Manne) was on one stage and Charlie Parker on the other.
One story from that night was that a friend of Chuck and Bill's commented that he thought Brubeck was the better musician and that Charlie Parker wasn't all that good. They wanted to take him outside.
Another incredible show at the legendary 'Green.
Craig Foster, August 2008
My Aunt Mary and Uncle Elmer Erickson owned the Evergreen Ballroom prior to its sale and burning down. Before Mary married Uncle Elmer she was a Sholand and Uncle Elmer married Mary who had been widowed.
I remember coming with my parents on a Saturday night, and staying in Aunt Mary and Uncle Elmer's attached apartment. Between the apartment and the ballroom was the store room that was full of beverages and munchies. We always got a can of pop and little bags of chips (quite a treat in the 50’s). My Dad would come and get me now and again to dance with him.
I remember Buck Owens. Dad would stand me on top of his feet and we'd dance around the ballroom. What great memories, and it was something I'll never forget. We're talking about over 50 years ago. As a teenager, I wasn't allowed to go there because it was a “wild” place. Both of my best friends met their husbands there, and they've been married over 40 years each. Amazing place.
Joyce (Seymour) Bryant, Olympia, WA,, November 2009
My group, The Fleetwoods, never performed there but one time Barb and I drove out there to look for one of her girl friends. I had bought a 1951 Ford Victoria which was slightly customized from Phil Raymond and this was the car we had driven out there. It was white, lowered and called Casper, The Friendly Ghost on the bottom of the left front fender.
George Barner was a regular customer and he and I shot the bull while Barb went in to find her friend. I don't remember if she found her but this memory came out of the archive when I read about these places I remember from our halcyon days. I tell our grand kids These Are The Good Ole Days and then I have to explain it to them. Geeze, what's the matter with kids these days? Sounds like a good title for a song!
Gary Troxel, The Fleetwoods, July 2010
"Among the earliest local Northwest rockers who played the Evergreen were Tacoma or Olympia combos: the Royal Kings with Johnny Moore, the Triumphs, Corvettes, and the Stingrays. But as the regional scene picked up steam others came through, including Burien's Statics and Seattle's Dynamics and Viceroys. Then, as the golden era of garage rock really dawned, countless others followed: Bobby and the Innkeepers, the Bootmen, Shalimars, Artesians, Majestics, Solitudes, Beachcombers, Galaxies, Sonics, Regents, Statesmen, Bootmen, Deacons, Noblemen, Entertainers, Raymarks, Nomads, Imperials, Gatormen, Pageboys, Mercy Boys, Liberty Party, Sir Raleigh and the Cupons, Bumps, Dimensions, Randellas, and the Poverty Five. The Evergreen also brought in a good number of local bands who were on the verge of making waves with big-time national hits: the Kingsmen, Paul Revere and The Raiders, Merrilee Rush and the Turnabouts, Don and the Goodtimes, and the Bards."
(From the essay Evergreen Ballroom: Olympia's Lost Landmark (1931-2000), HistoryLink.org Essay 9557
written by Pete Blecha for HistoryLink.org), March 2011
I remember going there sometime in the early 70's and being impressed by how big & gloomy it was inside (Never Clean).
Glenn D. Raymond, December 2011
I saw Marvin Gaye there in 1964. I was sixteen. Little did I know within 10 years I would be recording and playing on the same concerts with him. Dear Marvin, RIP.
Michael Jake Jacobsen, December 2011
Credits: Eric Predoehl, S. Carlson, Darryl Riffero, Stan Foreman, Rich Liebe, Mike Dugo, Steve Thurgood, W.A. Farrens, The Olympian, Mark Lindsay, Deb Lindsay, Lan Roberts, Michael Moore, Duane McCaslin, Tami McLoughlin-DeBellis, Jim Sola, Jim Hawkins, Steve Berman, Keith Craine, Larry Kirkland, Brett McCarron, Pat Drew, Tom Walters, Gretchen Christopher, Brian Feldtman, Maggie Fox, Nick Di Brino, Mike Shea, G. Hale, Dennis Kennedy, Bob Claycamp, Joel Johnson, Roland Morris, Craig Foster, Jim Henning, Bill Dean, Lori Phillips, Gary Troxel, Jack Dolan, Pete Blecha, Eric Christopher, Cheryl (Erickson) Stevenson, Gordon Hayes, Michael Jake Jacobsen, Glenn D. Raymond, Michael Jake Jacobsen, Mike Poe, Bill Uhlig, Peter Blecha