It will mean nothing except to a very small handful of you, but Michael Stanley, who headed his named band (yes, the Michael Stanley Band, or MSB) died this last weekend.
Stanley was a Northeast Ohio legend. Really.
Still the only band to sell out four nights in one week at Blossom Music Center - which is NE Ohio's outdoor premiere venue. I got to be at two of those shows. I also saw him at a New Year's Eve gig at the Richfield Coliseum (which is now gone and the land turned into a bird sanctuary) during a two sold out gig, and I'm not embarrassed to say I traveled a little to see them - Toledo, Bowling Green, etc.
I said it in a 2014 post here, their Stage-Pass is a seminal album here in Cleveburgh. And it still confounds me that a record company would allow a double live disk from an almost unknown band to be green-lit when it is only the band's third record. But we - and yes, I'm speaking for the city - are glad they did.
While that disk was a send off of the band for the label, it launched a greater exposure for the band semi-locally (Detroit - Toledo - Pittsburgh), but they could never go national - though I remember a Merv Griffin appearance and maybe one for American Bandstand. Neither being their target demographic.
That band just couldn't break through even with the assistance of Mutt Lange (who'd make just about anyone he'd touch famous), the producer for the Eagles, Steely Dan or even opening for Heart on their Dog & Butterfly tour.
Still, the man was an institution here. And he stayed here - while still putting out records (and one still to come). And while he survived prostate cancer, two heart attacks and a quadruple by-pass, lung cancer did him in.
A few years back I was crossing the street in downtown and passed him. I made not a big deal of it and we both exchanged "hey"s. Of course, like 100 ft later I was like, "THAT was MICHAEL STANLEY!". My then flip phone didn't have a cam-a-rah (say like Jenna Maroney) or I might have asked for a pic.
I'm pulling one from Stage-Pass. "Midwest Midnight". It's got it all: the climb, the rise and fall of rock and roll aspirations. masturbation. what more could you need?
Now and then it has some Kansas notes (the band, not the state), but keep in mind, back in 1976-77, they were contemporaries - and that band didn't even have their big hit until a year later.
R.I.P. Mr. Stanley.
I had two of their albums, one of which was Stage Pass. I liked it a lot and assumed big things for them. But they got lost in glut of corporate rock... which is a shame. Thanks for sharing this.
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