Kirk Reeves

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Kirk Reeves
Reeves in 2010
Reeves in 2010
Background information
Birth nameKirk Reeves
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died2012 (aged 55–56)
Portland, Oregon, United States
GenresJazz, classical
Occupation(s)Street musician, cable-access TV host, entertainer, magician
Years active2001 – 2012

Kirk Reeves (1956–2012), also known as "Working" Kirk Reeves, was an American street musician and entertainer best known for playing a trumpet on the west bank bridgehead of the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, Oregon while wearing a Mickey Mouse hat and a white suit.[1]

Life and years as an entertainer[edit]

Reeves was born in Boston, Massachusetts and later spent time "hanging around" a computer club at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This led to a job in Oregon in the computing industry that he later left over concerns that the Y2K bug would put him out of work.[2]

A small memorial for Reeves on the Hawthorne Bridge, November 2012

He decided to pursue a career as an entertainer, purchased a trumpet at a garage sale and started taking lessons. In the early 2000s, Reeves became a common sight on the streets of downtown Portland, often performing across the street from Powell's City of Books. Reeves spent many of the following years homeless and bore a scar along his neck from a violent attack.[3]

He also suffered from diabetes, cataracts and depression. Despite these ailments, he entertained thousands of Portland-area motorists, pedestrians and cyclists for over a decade with his music, magic tricks and a rolling cart filled with gadgets, puppets and other props. Reeves eventually relocated to a semi-permanent spot at the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge, where he often performed during his later years.[4] His signature tunes included "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," the title theme from the Star Wars film series and "Amazing Grace."[5]

Reeves also wrote four unpublished novels and hosted a Portland-area cable access program called Low Comedy.[6] In May 2012, he traveled to Los Angeles to audition for a slot on America's Got Talent and Shark Tank but wasn't selected for either program.


Despondent over his setbacks as an entertainer, financial troubles and his health problems, Reeves committed suicide over the weekend of November 3, 2012 in the Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area in North Portland.[7] On the night of November 18, 2012, a candlelight vigil attended by over 200 people was held for Reeves under the Hawthorne Bridge. Portland Mayor Sam Adams declared that Sunday "Kirk Reeves Day." A group of trumpeters played "Taps" and "Amazing Grace" as the assembly marched across the bridge.[8]

A group called the Memorial for Kirk Reeves the Trumpet Man attempted to raise funds for the construction of a Reeves statue and hoped to have it placed near the Hawthorne Bridge. Their efforts subsequently transitioned into an unsuccessful campaign to name a new transit bridge (ultimately named Tilikum Crossing) for him.[9]


  1. ^ Raineri, Joe (November 2012). "Iconic Portland street performer, 'Workin' Kirk,' dies". KATU. Archived from the original on November 11, 2012. Retrieved November 20, 2012.
  2. ^ Beaven, Steve (November 7, 2012). "Kirk Reeves, an Icon Among Street Performers". The Oregonian. Retrieved November 20, 2012.
  3. ^ Baer, April (November 7, 2012). "Hawthorne Trumpet Player 'Working' Kirk Reeves Dies". Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved November 20, 2012.
  4. ^ Moore, Scott (June 1, 2007). "Let Me Introduce You..." The Portland Mercury. Archived from the original on November 15, 2012. Retrieved November 20, 2012.
  5. ^ Beaven, Steve (November 7, 2012). "Kirk Reeves, an Icon Among Street Performers". The Oregonian. Retrieved November 20, 2012.
  6. ^ "Say Hello to 'Working' Kirk Reeves". Street Roots. May 14, 2010. Archived from the original on November 10, 2012. Retrieved November 20, 2012.
  7. ^ Beaven, Steve (November 8, 2012). "Portland police confirm that street performer Kirk Reeves was found dead Sunday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound". The Oregonian. Retrieved November 20, 2012.
  8. ^ Mesh, Aaron (November 19, 2012). "Vigil for Street Musician Kirk Reeves Spotlights Suicide Prevention". Willamette Week. Retrieved November 20, 2012.
  9. ^ Damewood, Andrea (October 21, 2013). "Fans of Kirk Reeves Start Campaign to Name New TriMet Bridge After Him". Willamette Week. Archived from the original on October 23, 2013. Retrieved October 22, 2012.

External links[edit]