Michael Buble speaks out against renaming Red Robinson theatre
The fight to keep Red Robinson’s legacy alive is gaining steam, with one of Vancouver’s most famous entertainers throwing his name behind the campaign.
Crooner Michael Bublé said he was outraged when he heard the Red Robinson Show Theatre – named after the legendary DJ who brought rock and roll to Vancouver – will be renamed.
“I was in shock and just really hurt; hurt for Red, hurt for our community. It really bothered me,” Bublé told CTV News Thursday.
The Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, which owns the theatre, announced in October it will rebrand the Boulevard Casino as the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver. The name of the Red Robinson theatre will also be changed as a result.
Bublé said he noticed the sign at the theatre had changed when he showed up there one day to record part of his Christmas special with singer Mariah Carey.
“I was pretty livid,” he said. “Red Robinson has meant a lot to me…but the truth is it’s more than that. It’s not a personal thing in a way, it’s bigger than that. I’m a very proud Vancouverite, I love this city, and we’re talking about an icon.”
The news has also prompted an online petition on the website change.org titled “Great Canadian Gaming Corporation: Keep the Name 'Red Robinson Show Theatre.'”
“We the undersigned are outraged by the slap in the face to one of the Lower Mainland’s most beloved residents,” the petition reads. “To honour a man by naming a building after him is a great honour. But to throw that away after seven years is a disgrace.”
The petition is a day old and has attracted hundreds of signatures and comments from Red Robinson supporters.
“I think it’s disgusting this would even be considered. The Hard Rock is about music and no one contributed to the music scene here more than who this theatre is named after,” one signer wrote.
“Any great entertainment city (L.A., NYC, Nashville, etc.) respects and promotes its traditions…we should too,” wrote another.
Chuck Keeling, a spokesman for GCGC, said it was a difficult decision to change the name of the theatre, but a necessary one.
“The main reason is the Hard Rock brand is very distinctive, and as part of the brand identity and the fact that we’re changing everything else associated with this facility…we only felt it was appropriate and necessary,” he said. “We’re not ending the relationship with Red, we’re changing it.”
Keeling acknowledged Robinson has been “a great friend to the company,” and that the newly renovated facility will showcase some of the DJ’s memorabilia to continue to honour him.
“For me, what bothers me the most is that the same company that honoured him has now dishonoured him,” Bublé said of Hard Rock, which is implementing its brand at the casino through a licensing agreement. “He deserves better than that. Our icons deserve better than that.”
Robinson kicked off his career in the 50s as the first DJ to play rock and roll music in Vancouver and is noted for emceeing a high-profile Elvis appearance in Vancouver. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio in 1995.
The 1,100-seat Red Robinson Show Theatre has carried the name since it opened in 2006, and has since attracted acts like Little Richard, Adam Lambert, Jay Leno and Bill Maher.
Robinson was quoted in an October news release from GCGC regarding the name change.
“It is great to have been personally recognized at such an iconic venue as the theatre at the Boulevard Casino,” he said. “I wish everyone associated with the new Hard Rock Casino Vancouver the best of success as they launch the new property and I look forward to some of my memorabilia being showcased as part of the musical collection that will be so important to the new facility.”
According to GCGC, the revamped Hard Rock casino will span 80,000 square feet complete with table games, 950 slot machines, and multiple performance spaces. It will hold a grand opening ceremony for the renovation and rebranding on Dec. 20.