Keyport mourns loss of popular musician: 'He lived for music'

KEYPORT, Wash. -- Classic and local sound makes most in Keyport think of Whiskey Creek Steak House. Not because of any jukebox or canned music, but because of Hal Champeness.

"He's from another time and whenever we got to be around him, everybody wanted to talk to him and get a story from him," said guitarist Marcus Dean.

90-year-old Champeness died at his Polusbo home Thursday after an accidental fire in his kitchen. Two neighbors tried to save him but were unable to help in time.

Champeness held court at Whiskey Creek and other lounges around the Peninsula with his upright bass and crooner's voice.

"He lived for music. That was what his life was," Dean said.

Bartender Tommy Brockus said "The Champ's" nights were always packed.

"You couldn't get a seat. You could not get a seat," he said. "Everybody would be stealing your seat."

Champeness is survived by his son.