The music tourist in Vancouver, BC, Canada

I’m currently in Vancouver for a work related conference, and as I like to do, I tried to find landmarks of importance for the music world. Vancouver has a strong rock scene, being host to scores of Canadian bands from classic acts like Loverboy, Headpins and Heart to newer acts like 3 Inches of Blood, New Pornographers, Econoline Crush and Japandroids, to name but a few. (Check out a more thorough list here), but there’s definitely not a lot of sites worth visiting.

One site that would have been interesting is the old Empire Stadium but it was demolished in 1993, and only a plaque is left. That venue is notorious for hosting the last concert Elvis Presley ever performed outside of the US (the last of only 3. The concert was stopped after 22 minutes when fans rushed the stage).

During his time in Vancouver, Elvis stayed at the historic Hotel Georgia. After a DJ made the mistake of identifying on the air the room in which the King had stayed, fans stripped it down to the floorboards. (According to this page). The building is now on the Canadian Register of Historic Places (but probably not because of the Elvis connection).

Here are a few pictures of Hotel Georgia.

My next stop was mostly a bust. The Marble Arch Hotel opened in 1917, but by the 1970’s, it was patronized by mostly unsavoury characters. Hoping to clean up the clientele, the owner transformed it into a strip club (!) (See full story here) It is this vocation that attracted the attention of Mötley Crüe, who gave the place a shout out in their 1987 hit Girls, Girls, Girls. If such connoisseurs of naked ladies appreciated the Marble Arch this much, it must have been quite successful. Nowadays, it is mostly famous for being one of the 5 worst real estate locations in Vancouver (and considering the shit holes I saw in Chinatown, it must have been really bad) and it is currently undergoing renovations by the city of Vancouver. Which TOTALLY ruined my photo op.


My last stop was a little place called the “Jimi Hendrix Shrine”. It is a tiny little shack that used to be a soup kitchen where Jimi’s grand mother worked. Seattle has a much better claim to Hendrix lore, but when he was a kid, his parents often sent him up to Vancouver to stay at his grandma, so he hung out at the restaurant and, according to legend, was often seen busking in front. Unfortunately, the place was closed.

The Jimi Hendrix Shrine
The Jimi Hendrix Shrine
Jean-Frederic Vachon
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