The Fremont Chronicles - Pt. 1
How the Spiderman got his name.
By David Brewer
This is a true story. The names haven’t been changed because none of the people involved were or are innocent.
In the early 1980s I was invited to play for a New Years Eve party at one of the most notorious clubs, bar none, in the history of North Seattle lore, the Fremont Tavern. Just north of the Fremont bridge, it was a rough joint, but also home to some of the most interesting and colorful people around: artists, musicians, bikers, heartbreakers and home wreckers, free souls, drunks, derelicts, etc, etc. After that first gig I became the house band or the next three or four years, five nights a week for the first year and a half.
At that point the word was out that it was the blues club of the scene. My blues cohorts (such as Tom McFarland, T-Bone Fisher, and Mike Lynch) began to play there on a regular basis. A famous Blue Monday jam developed and it ended up being a seven day a week party. When it was closing time everyone would head next door to Colman Brown’s (from the band Septimus) after hours place called The Fun Hole.
Having a few days free to play elsewhere, I copped a Saturday night gig downtown at Larry's. The players in my band at the time were Dan Abernathy (guitar), Bill Majkut (bass), myself (guitar/vocals), and Kirk “KT” Tuttle (drums). After the show at Larry's came to a screeching halt, it was decided that the party would be at my place. At the time I had been living in an upstairs apartment on the corner of 85th and Greenwood Avenue for three years. So I, KT, Gypsy Joker Turtle John, several women (who shall remain anonymous), Badger, Dave Moore and a few others - armed, of course, with a trunk load of party favors and booze, began to saddle up and head to my apartment.
Now normally I would have ridden with KT, but this time I went with Badger because he was driving his newly acquired ‘47 Chevy, and I just had to check it out. So we had quite the caravan as we headed out to my place, including several bikes and KT in his lime green ‘65 Lincoln with the suicide doors. When we arrived, KT was mysteriously absent. The party ensued, and, after several hours still no KT. This was totally out of character, with KT being a prolific and hearty reveler and all. As the festivities wound down there came a faint knock at the door. Yep, he finally made it, looking disheveled, careworn, and pissed off to be sure.
Now it should be said that my apartment was old-school, with a locked front door and no buzzer. As it turned out, the Lincoln, as it was famous for doing, had vapor locked (if you don't know what that is, look it up, it's all about carburetion!) and needed to rest for a few minutes. After he got the car up and running, KT arrived shortly after the rest of us, but found himself locked out. With the party now in full swing, he was unable to get any one’s attention, so he began to look for alternative ways to enter the building, to no avail. In a final attempt, he began to scale the a drain pipe on the brick wall out back and made it up about 20 feet or so before falling to the pavement below, nearly breaking his back in the process.
To his credit he finely made it to the party, but do to the injures he incurred he was unable to play our Thursday through Saturday gig that weekend backing up Bo Diddley at a club downtown called Under the Rail. He was not happy about this. After that I started calling him Spiderman for obvious reasons, and the name stuck. I painted a picture of said superhero on his bass drum head, and continued to do so on his birthday (in a new configurations of course), each year.
I can relate this sad tale because the Spiderman and I have been true friends over the past 25 years or so, and he has played the tubs for me for about nine years, off and on. He is one of the best. There are many harrowing stories about KT and all the rest of the cool and not so cool cats and kittens who made those days in Fremont so wonderful for me. Look for more adventures in Fremont tales to follow…and oblige.
Note: The David Brewer photo (photographer unknown) was taken in Seattle around 1976-77. The Spiderman photo was created by Ronda Lee.