May 19, 1977
Stanley Theater, Pittsburgh, PA
Michael Stanley Band at the Stanley Theater, Pittsburgh
FM Broadcast (WDVE-FM) recording, very good quality
Available in both Lossless (FLAC) and Mp3 (320 kbps) versions
Michael Stanley, singer-songwriter, guitarist, and legendary Cleveland rocker and radio personality, died last week, after a battle with lung cancer, at the age of 72. Although Stanley (full name Michael Stanley Gee) may have never reached the pinnacle of rock music nationally or internationally, around Cleveland and throughout the Midwest, he was a rock hero, icon of the working class rocker, and dauntless purveyor of Heartland Rock 'n Roll. After his rock band days with the Michael Stanley Band in the '70's and 80's, Stanley became a TV and radio personality, anchoring a daily radio show for Cleveland's classic rock station WNCX for over 30 years, right up until his death, and also continuing to release solo independent albums throughout his life. He was beloved for his music that was so much a part of the region, as well as for his personality and generosity. In a statement issued by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (located in Cleveland), he was called Cleveland's most beloved musician, songwriter, and rocker, with his heartland music resonating for legions of listeners, and concerts that set attendance records and took on mythic proportions. The music of the Michael Stanly Band was straight-forward rock 'n roll, nothing too fancy, but solid and with a definite focus and insight into Midwestern life and experiences.
Michael Stanley started out as more of a singer-songwriter, releasing his first solo album, Michael Stanley, in 1973. For his follow-up album, Friends and Legends (1973), he was able to bring in some all-star talent to help him out, including Joe Walsh (and his band Barnstorm), Dan Fogelberg, Ritchie Furay, David Sanborn, and good chunk of Stephen Stills' Manassas (Joe Lala, Paul Harris, and Al Perkins) and following an appearance on Don Kirshner's Rock Concert, Stanley seemed ready to break into the Big Time. However, after being unable to tour with his all-star talent assemblage, the album didn't have much impact. Stanley knew then that he needed to get his own band. So, he started what became the Michael Stanley Band, which originally consisted of Stanley on guitar and vocals, Jonah Koslen (lead guitar, vocals), Daniel Pecchio (bass, vocals), and Tommy Dobeck (drums). The band's first album, You Break It...You Bought It! (1975) established the straight-forward heartland rock the band would become known for. And it was this early period that I am most familiar with, as since I was heavily into the singer-songwriter style at this time, I had all these early Michael Stanley albums. The Michael Stanley Band was just getting started, but were having trouble finding an audience outside of Cleveland and the Midwest, as their next album, Ladies Choice (1976) failed to chart as well as the debut, but their Midwestern reputation was growing. Many discovered the band with their next release, a live album, Stagepass (1977), which achieved some notoriety for it's attention-getting cover (featuring a young woman stashing a concert ticket into her ample cleavage). Their next two albums Cabin Fever (1978) and Greatest Hints (1979) would continue to build their regional appeal, but still not breakthrough nationally. However, their next two albums, Heartland (1980) and North Coast (1981) on a new label (EMI America) and with a mostly new back-up band, would be their biggest successes, and garner at least some national recognition, with the single 'He Can't Love You' from Heartland making it up to #33 nationally, their highest charting single, and both albums making it well into the top 100 charts. And the albums were filled with songs about being from and growing up in the Midwest, and they really struck a chord with Midwestern fans. The band became incredibly popular in Clevelend and throughout the Midwest, such that they set attendance records in Cleveland that still stand today. More about the later days of the band and Michael in a subsequent post, but right now, I'm featuring a show from the earlier days of the band, right around the time of Stagepass being released, and still the original band lineup. Since this was a relatively short radio broadcast, I added a few additional tracks from other shows around this time.
01 - Midwest Midnight
02 - Calcutta Auction
03 - Nothing's Gonna Change My Mind
04 - Wild Sanctuary - Tommy Dobeck Drum Solo
05 - Let's Get The Show On The Road
06 - Strike Up The Band
07 - Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey
1977 - 2001 Club, Pittsburgh, PA
08 - Good Time Charlie - Your Mamma Don't Dance
09 - It's All Over Now
1976-10-05 - Ford Theater, Detroit, MI - Audience
10 - One Good Reason
11 - Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?