The Spanish Castle
1931 - 1968
Old Highway 99
Corner of Pacific Highway S. & Des Moines Way
Between Tacoma and Seattle, Washington

The Spanish Castle - Image courtesy of Don and Ron Edge
(Does that sign say 18 cents per gallon for gas?)

Some of the bands and personalities that appeared at the Castle

The Adventurers
The Aztecs
The Bandits
The Beach Boys
Bobby Bare
Bobby Rydell
Bobby Vee
Beach Boys
Little Bill and the Bluenotes
The Brothers Four
The Champs
The Checkers
The Checkmates
Cherokee Cowboys
Chubby Howard
Conway Twitty
Dave Lewis
Dick and Dee Dee
Don & The Goodtimes
The Dynamics
Ernest Tubb
The Exotics
The Fleetwoods
Frankie Roth's Spanish Castle Orchestra
The Frantics
The Gatormen
Gene Vincent
The Good Guys
Gorden Green Orchestra
Jack Roberts & the Evergreen Drifters
Jan and Dean
Jerry Fuller
Jerry Lee Lewis
Jim Reeves and Blue Boys
Jimi Hendrix
Johnny Crawford
Kathy Young & The Innocents
Little Eva
The Lovin' Spoonful
Merrilee and Her Men
The Mystics
Night People
The Playboys
Paul Revere & the Raiders
Ray Price
Ricky Nelson
Ron Holden
Roy Orbison
The Sonics
The Statics
The Swags
The Tokens
Tiny Tony
Tony Orlando
The Ventures
The Viceroys
Gene Vincent
The Wailers

The Spanish Castle - July 1944 - Courtesy of John Wright
The Spanish Castle - July 1944 - Courtesy of John Wright
The above photo is stamped July 1944 on the back and was found in with some old family photos.  I remember going over to the Castle in 1963 - 1966 to dance to some of the greatest bands.

John Wright, Wenatchee HS ‘66, April 2011

It is sad to say that this building, one that had such a significant place in Pacific Northwest music history, no longer exists except in photographs and in our memories.  In its day, this was one of the "in" places to go and attracted the top bands on the Pacific Northwest and national music circuits.  When people think of the Castle, they think of the Wailers, Sonics, Jimi Hendrix and all the other creators of that time in NW music history.

We are in the process of compiling a list of the bands that performed at the Spanish Castle in the 60's.  If you had a band that played here, have a flyer or advertisement for gigs at the Castle, memories to share, or remember seeing a particular band perform at this establishment, please let us know and we will add their name to the list of bands that performed here.  Send any information to our Webmaster.

The Spanish Castle, a popular dance hall, was built in 1931 on Pacific Highway South at Midway.  The building was demolished in April 1968.

I was one of the people involved in tearing up the old plank dance floor at the Castle's end. Thought you'd like to know that it was installed at the Butler's gas station on 225th & Des Moines Way, Des Moines, WA. The gas station is long gone, but the floor remains as part of the new Butler's Bar & Grill.  99% of the patrons don't have a clue as to what history they're walking on.  Still have many of those famous brass hat check tags and wall paintings.

Bob, Titusville, FL, November 2008

I was one of the teenagers who rocked out regularly at the Spanish Castle in the 60's.  I was there the night the 3 kids were tragically killed while trying to cross Hwy 99.  The Castle was a magical place for teens to go to dance, to fall in love, to make friends and to hear some of  the greatest rock 'n roll bands.  I remember hearing the Kingsmen, the Adventurers, and the Wailers.   I still have the original LP " The Fabulous Wailers at the Castle" in my collection.  I may be mistaken, but I think I remember Kathy Young and The Innocents also performing there...if not... the song "A Thousand Stars in The Sky'' haunts my memories of falling in love at the Castle every Friday night.

Jan Olsen, February 2009

I graduated from Highline High School in 1963 and didn't miss many weekends at The Castle.  Prior to that, you might say I grew up at The Castle as my father, Carroll W. Deignan was the pianist and did vocals for the Gorden Green Orchestra for 18 years.

As a child, I learned to dance there and sat amongst the musicians on the tiered levels watching and listening.  Gorden Green actually was the person who named me at my baby shower.  The dance floor, mentioned by the salvager in one of the notes, was custom made for dancing as it would "give" to the steps.  It was amazing when I was a teen and we started line dancing, you could see and feel the floor moving up and down with the steps.  The "disco" ball in the middle hanging from the ceiling was also a big part of the ambiance.

It was a rich part of my family history so am sad there is nothing left of it.

Lynne Deignan Fuller, Wenatchee, April 2009

I used to go the "Castle" when I was fourteen to see and hear The Wailers and others.  It was my first exposure to local rock and I knew it was special but had no idea how much.

Now at sixty years old, I still play cd's I got from my dear friend and band mate for years, Dave Child, a NW legend from Don & the Goodtimes, Woody Carr, The Family Band etc..).

I remember a few rumbles between The Gearlords and The Sultans that took place in the parking lot. It was an exciting magical time.

Brian Glenn, June 2009

I was watching a PBS special on Roy Orbison.. In Dreams.  Behind Roy there was a flyer on the wall with his schedule in 1963 or 64 and it listed the Spanish Castle, Seattle.

Liz Bomengen, March 2010

Ernest Tubb recorded a live album (which I have) for Decca records at the Castle in 1964.

Darrell Anderson, September 2008

I have so many memories of dancing at the Castle.  I saw Ricky Nelson at the Castle in 1957.  I was in the 7th grade at Jason Lee Jr. High in Tacoma.  He appeared in the summer between my 7th and 8th grade.  I also saw and met Bobby Rydell at the Spanish Castle.

Pat Urban, March 2010

I remember going there to see Johnny Crawford - with my mother as an escort. Imagine that!   But I wanted to go so bad... and, wouldn't you know it, mom found another parent there and they had a great time.

Val Clark, July 2012

Pat O'Day Remembers the Castle

The Rock and Roll chapter of Spanish Castle History starts with a conversation between myself and The Late Kent Morrill of the Wailers.   I was a dee jay at KAYO Seattle in 1959 and the Wailers, with their recent hit “Tall Cool One”, were looking for work.  This led me to a conversation with Wes Morrill, one of the Castle owners as I had been running teenage dances in Yakima and Longview/Kelso before entering Seattle radio.

That first event, late October 1959 featured of course, The Wailers.  It sold out and I said, “Here we go!”  By Thanksgiving weekend I teamed with County Promoter, Jack Roberts and we brought in Conway Twitty, who also sold out!   We were simply off and running.  The early 1960’s found me bringing in Gene Vincent, Jerry Fulller, Bobby Bare, Jan & Dean, Dick and Dee Dee, Tony Orlando, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Champs, (Tequila) Bobby Vee, Little Eva, The Beach Boys, Bobby Rydell, Kathy Young, The Brothers Four, The Frantics, Adventures, Little Bill and The Blue Notes, Paul Revere and The Raiders, The Lovin Spoonful, Roy Orbison, of course, our great Sonics, The Checkmates, The Dynamics, The Statics, Tiny Tony, Ron Holden, The Viceroys, The Good Guys, and I beg forgiveness from those I've overlooked.

Jan and Dean were the performers on a sunny Wednesday night in July when three young ladies got out of their Mothers car which was northbound on old highway 99, just across the four lanes from the Castle entrance.  A long line had formed at the ticket window waiting to get in, as the girls joined hands and attempted top run across the highway.  A truck was traveling south and they simply didn't make it.  The Seattle papers heralded how dangerous The Castle was (Papers then hated anything to do with rock and roll or KJR).  Also in those days, parents exercised control over their youth.  It gave the Castle a bad name and attendance fell.  Then, one month later, a kid on the outside of several beers pulled out of the parking lot into the oncoming lane.  A head on collision, two more fatalities, and “Spanish Castle Magic” was gone!

Yes, Jimi Hendrix was a regular in attendance, loaned a band his amp one night after the band had blown both of their.  Jimi stood on the back on the stage and played with, yes, The Statics.

The Castle was the founding dance that led to such weekly dances at The Crescent Ballroom in Tacoma, Sheridan Park Hall in Bremerton, Parkers on Aurora, Lake Hills Roller Rink Bellevue, Roller Land in Olympia, The Burlington Roller Dome, Birch Bay, and across the state from Yakima to Wenatchee, Tri Cities to Spokane, giving our young rock groups badly needed work and unity, and led the birth of Grunge!!!!!

This is all true!  I was there, and so proud I could help do it!

Pat O’Day, June 2014

This is how the interior of the Spanish Castle appeared in about the 1960's
Photo Courtesy of Bob Christensen

Night People on The Spanish Castle stage in about the early 1960's
Photo Courtesy of Bob Christensen

Night People on The Spanish Castle stage in about the early 1960's
Photo Courtesy of Bob Christensen

This is how the Spanish Castle appeared in about the 1930's and 1940's.
This is how the Spanish Castle appeared in about the 1960's.

Steve Ray and Lori Lowman at The Castle - May 1960 - Courtesy of Neil Rush

 Image courtesy of Don and Ron Edge

Matchbook Cover Courtesy of Mike Kaup

Matchbook Cover Courtesy of Mike Kaup

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Last Update:   21 January 2015
Credits: Dean Tonkin, Steve Hudziak, Ginny Lee (Howell), Bob Christensen, Gretchen Christopher, Gil Larson, Ron Roe, Peter Simpson, Walt Melewski, Pat Teal, Steve Miller, Chuck Curry, Don Edge, Ron Edge, Darrell Anderson, Darryl Riffero, Jan Olsen, Don Streeter, Lynne Deignan Fuller, Neil Rush, Liz Bomengen,Brian Glenn, Pat Urban, John Wright, Valerie Clark, Pat O'Day, Destiny Thomas, Mike Kaup