Cleveland Rock Icon Michael Stanley Dead at 72
Singer-songwriter and radio host Michael Stanley died yesterday at the age of 72.
"Michael battled lung cancer for seven months with the same strength and dignity he carried throughout his life," his family announced via social media. "He will always be remembered as a loving father, brother, husband, a loyal friend, and the leader of one of Cleveland’s most successful rock bands.”
A mainstay of the Cleveland rock scene, he led the Michael Stanley Band during the ‘70s and ‘80s. After a short stint on local TV he spent more than 20 years on air with 98.5 WNCX, starting in 1990.
“Michael was the king of Cleveland, and of course the Michael Stanley Band became a Midwest powerhouse," Joe Walsh declared in a statement published by Cleveland.com. "Michael has always been a master at the craft of songwriting. His songs have a way of getting in your head and became songs you end up singing to yourself over and over from then on...His music will always be part of me”
The Michael Stanley Band released 10 studio albums from 1975 to 1987, retaining a handful of concert attendance records in the area until his passing. He later went solo and released a further 13 records, the most recent of which was 2017’s Stolen Time. He’d started his recording career with his college band Silk in 1969 and also tracked a self-titled LP with the Ghost Poets in 1993.
Stanley continued to perform across Northeast Ohio until recently, with former bandmates making regular appearances alongside him. He was the subject of the affectionate spoof stage play Michael Stanley Superstar: The Unauthorized Autobiography of the Cuyahoga Messiah in 2004. He won a Cleveland Association of Broadcasters Excellence in Radio Award in 2012, and a section of of Huron Avenue in downtown Cleveland was renamed Michael Stanley Way in 2019. He was also the recipient of a Cleveland Arts Prize Lifetime Achievement Award.
His run with WNCX ended suddenly on Mar. 3 when the station announced: “Michael Stanley is dealing with serious health issues that prevent him from joining you in his 3-7pm time slot. It has been important to him to be on air up until recently, because you, his fans, mean that much to him. As of right now he is unable to continue doing that.”
Stanley suffered a heart attack in 1991 then fought a successful battle against prostate cancer in 2017. Later that year he underwent open heart surgery. “I’m really kind of blessed that people still want to hear any of this and still come out, and still pay to come out,” he told WKSU in 2019. “We didn’t become household names. We didn’t become international superstars. But we also did a lot of things that who would have even thought of?” He added: “We were a working, on-the-road, recording rock ‘n’ roll band for 14 years when the expected life span of a rock band is two or three years. And we’re all still friends and some of us still play together 45 years later.”
Michael Stanley Band - ‘In the Heartland’