"Working" Kirk Reeves, the longtime Portland street musician known for serenading motorists with his trumpet at the eastbound onramp of the Hawthorne Bridge, has died. He was 56 years old.
A former computer analyst, Reeves became a fixture along Hawthorne Boulevard after moving to Portland from Boston in 1991, performing renditions of classic standards (including the Looney Tunes theme song) while dressed in a white tuxedo and Mickey Mouse ears. A self-described "very bad and corny comedian," Reeves also hosted a public access variety show, Low Comedy, for four years.
Although the cause of death is being withheld by the Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office, pending contact with his family, Reeves had long been plagued by health problems. In 1999, he fell into a 10-day diabetic coma. In a Facebook post from February, Reeves wrote he "may be going blind and about to have kidney failure due to my diabetes." On Nov. 6, in an email to local comedian Aaron Ross—with whom he'd been writing a movie—and others, Reeves reported he had regained vision in one eye, and that he was considering spending the winter season in New Orleans and launching a Kickstarter campaign for a project called "Cheap Laughs for Free."
"Dude was one awesome cat. And he made me smile a lot," Ross tells Willamette Week. "He was definitely the hardest working man in show business. A cultural icon, in my eyes. His goal was to make people smile 12 hours a day."
Reeves is believed to have relatives in Boston and Los Angeles, but authorities have yet to locate them. Anyone with information about Reeves' family is urged to contact the Medical Examiner's Office at (971) 673-8220.
UPDATE, Nov. 8, 10:20 am: Kirk Reeves died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Medical Examiner's Office has announced after locating Reeves' sister. His body was found Sunday at Bybee Lake in North Portland.