New Life for King Eddy

A Calgary landmark gets a new lease on life as the home of the National Music Centre

Written by Canada’s History staff

January 14, 2015

Music lovers have been singing the blues in Calgary — and that’s a great thing for fans of heritage preservation.

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That’s because one of the city’s key musical landmarks — the King Edward Hotel — is once again a thriving music venue.

The King Eddy, possibly the oldest blues bar in Canada, has been transformed to become part of Studio Bell, the new home of the National Music Centre. The museum and performance facility is dedicated to showcasing Canada’s musical past, present, and future.

Located in the city’s East Village neighbourhood, the venue was known to patrons as the “Home of the Blues.” Many musical legends played there, including BB King, John Hammond, Pinetop Perkins and Buddy Guy. Built in 1905, the hotel enjoyed years of glory, followed by decades of decline; it closed in 2004.

In February 2013 the National Music Centre broke ground on the $200 million restoration and expansion project. The King Eddy was taken apart brick by brick. Each brick was cleaned, stored and placed on numbered pallets so that the building could be reassembled exactly as it was in 1905. Not only were the original bricks recycled, but original sandstone windowsills, cornices, and the signature neon sword sign were also re-used.

Studio Bell opened on Canada Day in 2016 and the King Eddy quickly became a popular venue during the Calgary Stampede. The centre hosts live music and boast five floors of exhibition space, a three-hundred-seat performance venue, a radio station, recording studio facilities, distance education classrooms, a museum, and much more. The King Eddy building is the largest artifact in Studio Bell’s collection.

For more information, visit the National Music Centre website.

This story has been updated since it appeared in the February-March 2015 issue of Canada’s History magazine.

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