‘Pete was our biggest band’: mourning the loss of Anchorage local legend

Published: Aug. 26, 2020 at 7:38 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Since the late 80′s, Peter Ettinger made Chilkoot Charlie’s one of the hottest spots in Anchorage with his “monster talent,” according to general manager and close friend, Doran Powell. After being struck by a vehicle in Midtown, his legacy tragically ended.

Ettinger was confirmed to be the victim of the crash through a Facebook post made by friend and local radio host Bob Lester.

Powell said Ettinger was the best talent he’d seen come through the bar as far as crowds go -- even surpassing big national names like Snoop Dogg and Insane Clown Posse who have played at the bar.

What makes that even more impressive is that Ettinger was a cover artist.

“He had this capacity to draw the crowd into the song,” Powell said. “He never tried to make the song his own. He played it with CD quality replication. He had a mimic’s voice.”

A voice that entertained hundreds of people until the early hours of the morning at every show he played at ‘Koot’s according to Powell.

As someone who’s seen a lot of his shows, Powell described Ettinger’s talent as near limitless. He said he could sing for hours and never lose his voice. He’d do every genre from pop, to rock, to hip-hop flawlessly.

“We’d build bands around him, he was such a monster talent,” he said. “He had won awards in Canada and was known in Canada.”

While ‘Koot’s is where most people in Alaska know him from, Ettinger’s music legacy really started in Vancouver according to MJ Reimann.

Reimann said she first saw Ettinger play at a bar when she was around 14 and Ettinger, 19. She said she was immediately inspired by his skills and considers herself lucky to have been close friends with him in the music industry ever since.

While he threw on a really good show, Reimann said he never acted like that made him better than anyone else.

“You know a lot of guys in his situation can be aloof or pretty egotistical, but he never really carried on like that,” she said, “just tremendous vocal cords of Kevlar, but just a great work ethic. He knew how to make a room feel like you were in the coolest room in town.”

Powell and Reimann said Ettinger leaves behind his 10-year-old daughter Keirnan. Reimann said she was a huge part of why he was in Anchorage so often.

“That’s what kept him here, even through a pandemic and everything when he might have been better off back in Canada,” she said.

Now that he’s gone, Powell said he and other loved ones of Ettinger have to put on a funeral, and they want it to do him justice.

But that’s where the pandemic continues to make things complicated.

“We’re still figuring out COVID mandate appropriate plans,” Powell said, “We think if we were to try and do it in Anchorage, it would draw thousands of people. Obviously that’s not appropriate, and we don’t want that to be part of his legacy is having an event where someone got sick.”

He said they’re thinking about finding somewhere in the Valley to hold the funeral. Powell said he and his associates are no strangers to setting up large musical events in open spaces, but they are going to do it right. No plans are set in stone yet.

Powell said much of the pain comes from how suddenly this news came down after the accident. However, because the pandemic has kept bars closed and gatherings limited, so many of his fans hadn’t seen him play in months. Now they never will again.

“It just adds another layer to the tragedy,” he said, “that his fans didn’t have a chance to say goodbye. There were just thousands of people here in Anchorage that just loved Pete for who he was.”

Copyright 2020 KTUU. All rights reserved.

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