Sunday, August 9, 2015

Seattle's old G-Note Tavern: Rock n' roll and then some

Rock n' roll, dancing, brawling and AA meetings once took place here. (Andy photo)

By Andy

Sometimes, when you're lounging at a barbecue where rock 'n roll is the main subject bandied about, you snag a kernel of information that you've always wanted in your musical arsenal. It ties everything together and now you can relay a story on to someone else down the line.

We've always wanted to know just what transpired within the checkered walls of the 4,300-square-foot building at 300 NW 85th St. in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood.

It's empty now and for lease, but it once housed the G-Note Tavern and was the place of mass rowdiness one evening in the 1970s, according to a fellow at the barbecue who played in a blues-rock band that night.

While his band belted out its tunes, a melee erupted at the pool tables in the back room and soon the brawling throng rumbled into the band room. With punches flying and blood spilling, the band continued to play for a bit while face-to-face with the skirmish. After the band stopped, many cops were soon rushing through the doors, prying combatants off each other and hauling them away.

As I snapped photos of the place today, a police car raced by with siren screaming and I shook my head, thinking about that wild night at the G-Note. Turning to my right, I noticed that the Washington Karate Association's building is nearby. I chuckled.

Our barbecue friend noted that in recent years, the building housed AA and al-Anon meetings -- now that's interesting, since some of the barflies at the G-Note may have returned to their former haunt for other reasons.

The building, which used to sport red checkers instead of today's gaudy green, was also an all-ages dance club about a decade ago.

Back in the '70s, bands like boogie-meisters Canned Heat, Backburner, Moving Parts and The New Vitations (see fliers below) graced the stage of the G-Note. According to one Facebook post on BB King's page, he nixed the stage and strolled out the front door with his 200-foot cord, jamming in the street and in front of businesses at a gig in the late 1970s. Fabulous!

... And, according to the University of Washington University Libraries website, the 1st Annual Hooker's Ball was held at the G-Note on July 13, 1977.

Here's what the site states:

"Margo St. James (Margaret Jean St. James) was born in Bellingham, Washington, September 12, 1937. A self-described prostitute and sex-positive feminist, founded the organization COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics), which advocates decriminalization of prostitution. The Hooker's Ball, an annual event served to fund COYOTE over the years. Throughout the 1970's and 1980's, she testified before state and international governments on trafficking and violence against women, and the social effects of prohibiting adult consensual behavior. While attending the 1974 UNESCO Conference in Paris, Margo and other activists met with Simone de Beauvior, who later convinced them to form the International Committee for Prostitutes Rights (ICPR)."

Additional reference:


  1. Which year Canned Heat played in Tavern?

  2. In which year Canned Heat perform i G Tavern?

  3. My favorite memory of the G Note -- My brother Michael was married there (for the first time) in the late 70's or early 80's (I am bad at pinpointing historical moments). He used to play bass for Albert Collins when Albert was playing in Seattle, and Albert showed for the wedding. When they were playing after the ceremony, Michael stepped up for a solo, and Albert said, "Come on, Mike -- tell truth now!" which made Michael fall out completely. My Uncle Bill was sitting behind my grandmother (who had thoughtfully brought pastel mints -- a must for conventional weddings of that time, and who know how long before) and told me he just watched her spine stiffen during the proceedings. The whole thing was just awesome to be witness to, and I am eternally entertained by this memory.

  4. I had the building from 1989 to 1995. That was when we had AA and NA meetings daily and Clean & Sober dances nightly. It was called Club 449 after a page in AA's Big Book. When I was introducing my clientele to the building for the first night I proudly announced it used to be The G-Spot...and we were off! Bob Birchett