Former Husky Recalls Seattle Music Scene of the 1990s

They were young, on the rampage, tearing up the Pac-10 with three straight Rose Bowls, while the soundtrack to their lives played daily in the locker room and weight room.

The glory days of Husky Football arose simultaneously with the emergence of grunge music onto the world scene. Back in the day, back in the early 90s.

One big fan of the local scene was former UW defensive lineman Mike Ewaliko. His legendary hit of Miami wide receiver Jammi German can be seen here.

Ewaliko played for the Huskies from 1991-1995, and grew up listening to The Doors, Jimi Hendrix and popular rap of the 80s.

"I've always been a fan of a lots of different kinds of music," Ewaliko said. "I got into [Seattle] Grunge around '89-90. I loved Layne Staley and Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone, Screaming Trees and I loved the album Temple of the Dog.  I wouldn't tend to listen to Nirvana much."

When it came to the UW weight room and locker room, music of all kinds blared on different days. The older players brought in CDs or chose a radio station. Rap, R&B, grunge, hard rock, heavy metal and sometimes even country music could be heard.

"If it sounded good, it jacked people up," Ewaliko said. "And if you didn't like what was being played, you could always put your headphones on. I listened to `Man in the Box' over and over while lifting weights."

Ewaliko recalled funny memories of those days. One involved the time the band Quiet Riot actually played at the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity house at UW.

"The band shows up on a bus," Ewaliko said. "They literally played the show in the front room. The first song they did was `Bang Your Head [Metal Health]. The floor of the frickin' room, with all the people jumping, I thought it was going to collapse. It was boney. And then a fight broke out. Some other frat guys got in there and it started a big fight. Quiet Riot got through about 3-4 songs, and then the lead singer [Kevin DuBrow] got pissed and he shut it down.

"Myself, Andrew Peterson, Trevor Highfield were there. We had to swing our way through the fight to get out of there. Lots of pushing and shoving. Fists were flying everywhere.

"But hey, for $10, or maybe $5, we got to see Quiet Riot that close?  Cool."

One other classic memory occurred the time Ewaliko and teammates worked security at a Lollapalooza event.

"That year it was Jesus and Mary Chain, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers were the headline, along with Ice Cube.  Down there at the Fairgrounds. The whole front of the stage was all Huskies. Me, Trevor Highfield, Joe Kralik and Todd Bridge. And Billy Joe Hobert and Hillary Butler might have been working that show too.

"We could turn around and you had Chris Cornell wailing his screaming voice, and Eddie Vedder doing his swingy thing when he climbed [stuff]. It was wild."

But when it came time for Ice Cube to perform, the famous rapper was nowhere to be seen.

"Ice Cube was supposed to go on stage, but he wasn't there," Ewaliko said. "The coordinators didn't know what was going on, people started booing. It turns out that Ice Cube got stopped at the border because he had a gun or something.

"So he pulled in late. Everyone is trying to get things set up [on stage]. So while this is going on, you've got Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers] backstage in his underwear, and we're talking to him. You've got Anthony Kiedis and Chris Cornell back there. And then Ice Cube comes up, and his eyes are gone. I can't remember who was with me at that moment, maybe it was Hillary [Butler]. We were sitting there and Ice Cube was telling us a story. And then he goes, `Hey you guys are big mother******s, do you guys play ball or something?"

"We told him we played for the Washington Huskies. And he said `Ahh  #@%!' And he started saying that he bet on us the year before and made some money."

Today, Ewaliko is the owner of Precision Shaper Systems in Seattle. Of the groups and singers he enjoyed back in the day, the late Layne Staley of Alice in Chains and Mad Season stands out. "His musical genius motivated a kid through college, got him jacked up before practices and games, played at some pretty raging parties my buddies and I threw.  

"And now his music plays in my shop, car and through my iPhone still today."