Northwest Dance & Music Venues

Smilin' Buddha Cabaret
109 East Hastings
Vancouver, British Columbia

Some of the bands that performed at this place during those great years of NW music were:

Roger Jerome and the Casuals
The Collectors
The Devilles
The Henry Young Band
Jimi Hendrix
No Exit
The Orbits
The Payolas
The Scissors
Kentish Steele and the Shantelles
Mother Tuckers Yellow Duck
Tom Northcott and the Playboys
Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers
The Viscounts
Jefferson Airplane

Others ??

Just wanted to congratulate you guys on having all this stuff on Vancouver of the 60’s.  I grew up there and was a “greaser” until around 66.  I was in the merchant marine, working on the CPR boats at that time, spending quite a lot of time in the Main/Hastings area as that’s where the union hall was located.  I lived over on Commercial Ave near Broadway with Tiny Heinz.  He worked the tugboats, was a union patrolman for Hal Banks but also moonlighted as a bouncer at the Buddha.

I remember Guitar Shorty used to come up from Seattle.  He reportedly was Jimi Hendrix's uncle, and played the Buddha.  I saw him there at least 2 times. It was a rowdy place, as most of the clubs were then.  Shorty stayed at Tinys’ house during those times.  I saw many of the NW Vancouver bands around then.  Tom Northcott and the Playboys, Collectors, Nocturnals, Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers, Kentish Steele and the Chantelles, Mother Tuckers Yellow Duck, Jefferson Airplane without Grace Slick. Great memories man. Peace.

Dave Draper, January 2007

Back in the late 50s or early 60s, the Viscounts were hired to play the Smiling Buddha.  The deal was for us to start at 12:01 on Monday morning to cater to the thirsty ones . The liquor laws prohibited selling booze on Sundays so it was thought that there was a market for this time slot.  I remember having the five of us on stage and something like 3 people in the audience.  I can't remember how many gigs we did there but it was only a few.  On one, when we went to get paid, the owner or manager took me with him to somewhere in a back alley where he removed his watch and traded it in for some cash.  That is how we got our pay that night.

Some of had day jobs so this was just for some extra money.  Most of what we earned went to supporting the "Viscount Sin Palace" where we all lived.  It covered room and board.  Glen Miller (base) was a pretty good cook and we found a butcher shop somewhere in the lower Lonsdale area that had real cheap but BIG steaks.  A lot of meat tenderizer and pounding made them into something edible.

I also have a 78 record made by the Viscounts way back in the very early stages (late 50s).  Not our best stuff and has a lot of scratches but I could try and digitize it and send you a copy if you liked.

Gene Gillott, July 2009
Viscounts, sax

Photo by:  Fred Herzog

Here is a picture taken from the corner of Hastings and Columbia Street in Vancouver in 1958 showing off the Smilin' Buddha neon sign.  It is hard to believe that this was taken 50 years ago!

Gerry Berg, June 2008

I'd love to see some interior or exterior shots of the Buddha back when it was in it's glory.  Sadly, this is what the interior looks like now.

Ron Injates, October 2006

The Smilin' Buddah Cabarat has reopened as the SBC Restaurant and is again hosting live bands!

Andrew Turner, January 2016

 View from the middle of the room looking out towards the entrance door on Hastings Street:

View from the middle of the room looking back towards the rear alley exit.
There are huge holes in the roof, and part of the floor is beginning to collapse

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Last Update:  14 January 2016
Credits:  Ron Injates, B.J. Cook,  Gerry Berg, Dave Draper, Dean Chapman, Donna Champagne, Frank van de Ven, Gene Gillott, Fred Herzog (Photo credit), Tom Quirk, Andrew Turner