How many hotels can say that The Beatles fished out of their guest room window? I’d be willing to bet it’s only one: The Edgewater in Seattle. Lest you think it’s a tall tale or dubious legend, there’s a photo to prove it, along with a press conference recording in which Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr marveled
It was only a few months after The Beatle’s legendary 1964 appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, which launched the madness of Beatlemania in America. Seattle was the third stop on their first U.S. concert tour, and the day they arrived was one that forever changed the fate of The Edgewater.
Built on top of pilings at the end of old Pier 67 extending into Elliott Bay, the hotel didn’t make its projected grand opening in time for the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962 and had been struggling since then. City ordinances no longer allowed hotels to be built on the original piers, and many feared that The Edgewater’s days were numbered, destined for demolition. But then The Beatles happened.
After causing a fan-driven frenzy in every city they set foot in, the Fab Four had a hard time finding a hotel that would accept them. After manager Don Wright jumped at the chance for some publicity and welcomed them with open arms, the hotel’s insurance company reportedly even canceled their policy.
The Beatles touched down at SeaTac airport in August 1964, met by a throng of screaming fans. The Edgewater had constructed cyclone fencing around the hotel to ensure a clear entry for Paul, John, Ringo and George – but that didn’t stop creative attempts to reach the famous guests once they were tucked inside the hotel.
The Edgewater literally edges the city, teetering over the historic Puget Sound waterfront. Guest-room windows open to the bay, and the snowcapped Olympic Mountains tower in the background. It was therefore inevitable that some fans would swim across the frigid waters from West Seattle for at least a glimpse of their idols in Room 272, only to be captured by the Seattle Police Harbor Patrol. The Seattle PI newspaper later told of teenage girls hiding under beds and making reservations in hotels all over town, in the hopes of sleeping under the same roof.
A Lingering Legacy
After their half-hour performance that night at Seattle Center Coliseum, The Beatles hopped into an ambulance while decoy vehicles and look-alikes distracted crowds at the entrance to The Edgewater. The band checked out the next day, but the stories linger. Decades later at the 50-year anniversary, King 5 News shared the memories of Seattle radio DJ Pat O’Day, who introduced The Beatles onstage that night and whose station KJR was the first in America to play a Beatles record. He told how even the carpet in The Edgewater guest room was cut into little squares and sold at McDougall’s department store as souvenirs.
Fame was far from fleeting at The Edgewater hotel, with a steady stream of renowned musicians continuing to revolve through its doors over the decades: Pearl Jam, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Ozzy Osbourne, David Bowie and Rod Stewart, as well as Neil Young, Frank Zappa, Blondie, Jewel, Emmy Lou Harris and Willie Nelson. Kiss paraded through the lobby in full costume, while Led Zeppelin broke out an impromptu soccer match after autographing a soccer ball for a front-desk clerk. The Village People even launched into a spontaneous rendition of their “YMCA” hit while drinking in the hotel bar. The list continues to grow as the hotel digs ever deeper into music culture.
Guitars and Record Players: Not Your Usual Amenities
The Edgewater hosts a comprehensive music program for hotel guests, providing access to acoustic and electric guitars, sheet music, ION record players and albums in conjunction with local icons Easy Street Records and Emerald City Guitars. Guests can check out the musical items from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. any day of the week. The gear is also available in some of the music-themed suites and packages.
In a partnership with Pearl Jam and its fan club, the hotel harbors a Pearl Jam Suite with an in-room guitar and amplifier as well as a record player and vinyl albums of PJ music. Guests sleep amongst genuine concert memorabilia and posters, while a “Rock the Suite” packages includes two tickets to the “Pearl Jam: Home and Away” Exhibition at MoPOP and two Pearl Jam Signature Cocktails in Six Seven Lounge at The Edgewater.
The Beatles Suite is like walking into a sacred pop-culture chamber with 750 square feet of living, dining and sleeping areas decked out in 60s décor. Beatles photographs, memorabilia, music and history create a pilgrimage to the past, and you can almost feel the boys from Liverpool hanging out the bay window with their fishing rods. A Fab Four World Tour package includes tickets to the Museum of Modern Culture (formerly known as Experience Music) and two bourbon and coke cocktails, known to be a favorite drink of The Beatles.
A Waterfront Icon
With all the history tied to Seattle’s waterfront strip – from rum running to deep-sea fishing, Native American tribal life, gold-rush vessels, and union strikes at the shipyards – it’s no surprise that a legendary music subculture was able to take root on Pier 67. The Edgewater perches in a place where bold ingenuity is a given, and a hotel built on rock n’ roll seems right at home.