Columbus City Council names street after local rock legend Willie Phoenix

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Columbus rock musician Willie Phoenix is donating a musical instrument after being honored with his own street, Willie Phoenix Way.

“This is a great honor that I accept with humble soul and bones,” said Phoenix. “Thank you City Council, Mayor Ginther and fans. Love you all! Oh yeah, and Columbus Rocks!”

The Columbus Music Commission says it will be hosting the live-streamed event with the Columbus City Council at the corner of 16th Avenue and High Street at 1 p.m. Thursday.

“Willie Phoenix is a unique creative force of nature and Columbus is proud to call him our own,” said Columbus City Council President Shannon G. Hardin. “It is our hope that this street marker will inspire young musicians who walk down High Street to pick up a guitar, sit behind a keyboard or rock a turntable to write the next chapter of Columbus, Ohio rock, roll and soul.”

Phoenix has released 29 full-length records and his secret vault is rumored to contain three times that amount. He plays multiple styles of music and has performed up and down High Street.

He has also inspired and influenced many young musicians in the city, said Colin Gawel, lead singer and guitarist of a rock band.

“The only reason myself and my bandmates in Watershed chose to attend Ohio State was so we could see Willie Phoenix as much as possible,” said Gawel, “Seeing him at Bernie’s was the Columbus version of seeing Springsteen at the Stone Pony. It was as good as rock-n-roll had ever been or ever would be. He raised the bar for not only us, but for every band playing on High Street.” 

This year was the largest instrument donation compared to previous years, said the commission. They have accepted more than 700 instruments and musical supplies for Columbus City Schools. They received money donations to purchase new instruments as well.

“As the music city of Columbus grows, it is important for us to annually honor and commemorate our musical pioneers. It is they who have embraced us with their talent and set the tempo for the future,” said Bruce Garfield, Executive Director of the Columbus Music Commission.

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