The Yale Hotel closes
Upon hearing that the Yale Hotel Had closed, I called to make sure the marquee was still lit.I got there on a cold wet night only to find the old building + surrounding strip of Granville bathed in the the Neon of the marquee.After photographing all sides + angles of the Building I was heading back to my car,I turned back thinking there was one more shot from the front doors I should get,placing my tripod on the sidewalk, I saw the beautiful colours of the neon Saxophone of the Marquee proudly announcing “Live Blues Nightly”,that was the shot,that’s why I came back.Just then the door swing open and there stood a guy holding a beer who asked me what I was doing?I told him I didn’t want to miss the closing of the Yale without a few photos as a keepsake,I recognized him from a newspaper article as Wade Luciak,the Owner he then said , ” Well come on in”.The Yale staff were having their final party this Monday night with the place to themselves.Wade handed me a beer and said “Shoot what you like”. There I stood,in the Yale,drinking a beer,was I the last customer?I took my photos,thanked Wade + his son Joe told them what seeing great acts in the Yale such as Betty Lavette,Otis Taylor,Sonny Landreth,Magic Slim+ the Dirty Dozen Brass Band had meant to me.I wished them well ,leaving the building I was going to get that shot of the reflection in the puddle,but three large guys smoking under the awning changed my mind.I didn’t get that shot but what a memory I did get-Mike Wakefield/ November 21 2011
Call it the end of an era. After three decades of live rhythm and blues, Vancouver fabled Yale Hotel will close its doors for a major renovation on November 21. The Hammond B3 organ will vacate the stage. Photos of various musical legends who performed at the Yale, ranging from former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page to classic Vancouver bluesman Robbie King, will be taken into storage. And for the following year, all that the father-and-son team of Wade and Joe Luciak will be able to enjoy about the 130-year-old Yale are their cherished memories.
In 1987, the Luciak family bought the hotel on the southern edge of the Granville Street entertainment district, about five years after its beer parlour had been converted into a blues bar by the previous owner. On this afternoon, with the familiar sound of billiard balls colliding in the background, the two sit down with the Georgia Straight in the middle of the bar to reminisce about the past.
Wade explains that King, who played with high-end Motown musicians, lived for many years in one of the rooms above the stage. Quite often, his songs were performed by visiting bands.Robbie was such a character that if he heard the fellow on the organ not playing it correctly, he would put his housecoat on, storm down, bump him off the organ, and he would be right there playing,he says.That is one of the cool old stories of the Yale.
Joe, the music director, then mentions that King was one of the first gay musicians to come out of the closet.He was best friends with Long John Baldry, he notes.He was best friends with Elton John. Published in the Gerogia Straight Newspaper.