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The History of Tulagi: A Legendary Music Venue on The Hill

October 25, 2022  /  Features

Photo credit: Bill Wardwell

For generations, Tulagi was a fixture of the Boulder's musical history. From the Eagles, the Doobie Brothers, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, ZZ Top and Miles Davis in its heyday, to Big Head Todd & the Monsters and The Samples in the early 2000s, Tulagi has welcomed renowned acts from a range of musical genres, as well as providing a platform for local, up-and-coming musicians.

A Tulagi matchbook. Photo credit: About Boulder

Located in Boulder's University Hill district, Tulagi was founded in the 1940s by Ray Imel and Rex Bailey. It was named after a dream Imel had about a sandy beach on the island of Tulagi in the Solomon Islands. An enchanting south Pacific-inspired mural, painted by family friend Ed Whitaker, further added to the venue's allure. In 1969, Herb Kauvar, owner of The Sink, acquired ownership of Tulagi, and music promoter Chuck Morris began booking acts. Morris even included a clause in the lease to protect the south Pacific mural. Despite clashes with neighbors and issues with liquor licensing, Tulagi's unique character continued to attract visitors.

Tulagi mural. Photo credit: About Boulder

In 2003, state tax agents seized the business and it was bought by the owners of the adjacent Fox Theater. The building was later converted into commercial rental space, and currently houses a yoga studio and a pizza parlor. The original Tulagi sign, in its slanting script, still stands as a reminder of the countless memories made there.


About Boulder. (2022, October 8). An Island on the Hill – Boulder's Tulagi Bar. About Boulder.

Sounart, C. (2019, October 1). How Tulagi got its start. The Coloradan Alumni Magazine.