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Who was Patricia Spoonheim? Montana music icon also known as 'Piano Pat' dies at 85

Piano Pat has been performing the keyboard at the Sip 'N Dip Lounge at the O'Haire Motor Inn in Great Falls, Montana since 1963
Piano Pat working the keyboard at the Sip 'N Dip lounge (GoFundMe)
Piano Pat working the keyboard at the Sip 'N Dip lounge (GoFundMe)

The natives of Great Falls, Montana suffered a huge loss on Tuesday, May 4, after the legendary musician Patricia Spoonheim died. Known by the moniker Patricia Pat, she performed at the Sip 'N Dip Lounge at the O'Haire Motor Inn but her music was world-renowned, and the local legend was covered widely by the media. 

The O'Haire Motor Inn posted the sad news on their Facebook page on Wednesday night. "It is with very heavy hearts that we tell you that our beloved Piano Pat passed away peacefully yesterday. We loved her. Our hearts are broken. Rest In Peace beautiful Pat," the post caption read alongside a photograph of the musician behind the keyboard at the lounge. 


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Who was Piano Pat?

Piano Pat was a popular fixture at the Sip 'N Dip since 1963, a year after the Motor Inn opened. She was hired as a fill-in for a piano player who went on vacation but he never returned to town cementing Pat's position at the lounge permanently. Pat had been a performer at the lounge for more than five decades and even though she cut down on her appearances in the current years but when she did, it was always a full house. 

"This is my living room. It's more like my home. I'm just comfortable here," she once said about the lounge that turned her into a celebrity. A Rudyard native, Spoonheim began playing the piano since she was 12 years old. She was a single mom of three kids with a day job for 35 years as a medical transcriptionist at the Great Falls Clinic.

Piano Pat at the Benefis Hospital in September 2020 (GoFundMe)

Everyone loved Piano Pat 

Pat had to ability to command a room sitting behind the piano and her patrons weren't limited to a certain age group. From 21-year-olds to someone in their 80s, Piano Pat was loved by all. "We get them from 80 to 21," she said once. "Those kids are so good to me. I don't know if I've got a grandmother challenge for them or what," Pat joked. "It's just been a good spot all the way around. I've met so many wonderful people," she further said

Pat suffered an accident on August 15, 2020. The 85-year-old losing her balance and broke her hip and hit her head on her piano. She made it through the hip surgery. However, shortly after, she was diagnosed with a C Diff bacterial infection. The road to recovery was long and medical bills and assisted-living facility expenses weren't cheap. Kerri Anderson started a GoFundMe for the musician and out of the $25,000, they were able to raise $21,451.

Piano Pat was moved to the Benefis West Rehabilitation center after her surgery (GoFundMe)

How did Piano Pat die?

The O'Hare Motor Inn's tribute message didn't reveal the cause of the icon's death. However, it is assumed she died due to old age as well as complications arising from the injury from last years. Pat's fans took to Twitter to lament the loss of the local treasure after her passing.

"Her voice was uniquely hers, and it entertained generations. That voice will be missed. Bless you Piano Pat," tweeted Montana's 24th Governor Steve Bullock. "Nooooooo! So very sorry to see this. Truly a Montana icon who will be so missed," NBC Montana journalist Maritsa Georgiou tweeted. "RIP Piano Pat Pat was one of the reasons that the Sip 'N Dip was named by GQ magazine as the "#1 bar on earth worth flying for" in 2003, coupled with the near-equally iconic mermaids behind the bar," tweeted another fan who had experienced Pat's music.



"I met my wife at the Sip N Dip with Piano Pat’s soundtrack playing in the background. One of the first places we took our daughter was to see Piano Pat and the mermaids. The Sip, and Pat are woven into the fabric of anyone who’s lived in Great Falls. RIP to an Icon," shared another fan. "I did a story for Montana Magazine on Piano Pat at least 10 years ago or so. She was a true original in every sense of the word. Such a kind, sweet lady. She loved playing music so much. This is heartbreaking to hear," read another tweet.