If you want to bring a smile to the lips of any old-time Brightonite, all you have to do is mention the Canopy Restaurant.
For much of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, the Canopy was the most famous landmark in Brighton, as people came from far and wide to eat there. A spectacularly elegant restaurant located on Grand River Avenue, the Canopy had linen tablecloths, sparkling glasses and incredible steaks.
The Canopy also had Earl Williams.
Earl was the house pianist at the Canopy, and one of the best things about dining there was that you got to listen to him tickling the ivories. Earl Williams was more than just a Brighton institution – he was a Brighton legend.
The Canopy closed its doors in the late-1980s, but I was fortunate enough to have eaten there a few times before it drifted off into history. And best of all, I was fortunate enough to have heard Earl Williams play the piano.
When I heard the sad news that Earl passed away Tuesday, it brought back all those wonderful memories of the Canopy. The soft lighting. The great food.
And the picture-perfect music.
Those of us who are old enough to remember the Canopy – and Earl Williams – are no doubt feeling a rush of melancholy at hearing this news. We’re sad that we can’t go back in time and enjoy just one more steak. One more plate of seafood.
And one more rendition of “Moon River” coming from Earl’s fingertips.
Rest in peace, Earl.