Michael Stanley, Cleveland Rocker, Dies at 72

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Michael Stanley (Photo via WNCX-FM Cleveland)

Michael Stanley, the Cleveland-based musician who fronted his namesake group, the Michael Stanley Band, died yesterday (March 5, 2021) from lung cancer. Stanley, 72, had been a longtime fixture on the city’s rock station, WNCX-FM, until March 3 when the station announced that he wouldn’t be able to do his regular shift. The news of his passing “peacefully at home with his family by his side,” was shared today by the station.

“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,” the station posted on its Facebook page.

Stanley’s farewell letter

Hours later, the station shared a farewell letter from Stanley who wrote, in part, “If you’re reading this then I am off to catch up with that big club tour in the sky. But before the bus pulls out I wanted to thank all of you for being a part of my musical journey.”

Stanley remained on-air up until this week, when the station noted, “Michael 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. Please keep Michael in your thoughts and prayers, and if you wish to send positive vibes out to Michael, please do so below.”

Stanley was born March 25, 1948, in Cleveland. He released two solo albums in 1973, both of which were produced by longtime Eagles producer, Bill Szymczyk. The second LP, Friends and Legends, featured the members of Barnstorm, comprised of Joe Walsh, Joe Vitale and Kenny Passarelli, as well as numerous other prominent names including Dan Fogelberg, Richie Furay, Al Perkins, and David Sanborn.

Listen to the lineup perform the Beatles’ “Help” with a unique tempo

Stanley, 3rd from R, on the cover of MSB’s 1981 album

The following year, the guitarist formed the Michael Stanley Band. Beginning in 1975, they released an album annually on a variety of labels including Epic, Arista and EMI America. Yet, despite routinely selling out Cleveland arenas, they never caught on nationally as just four of their albums reached the top 100 of the Billboard 200 Albums chart.

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Seven songs charted on the Hot 100, with 1980’s uptempo rocker, “He Can’t Love You,” the highest at #33.

The band finished up with a series of sold-out concerts in the Cleveland area in 1987.

Best Classic Bands Staff
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  1. Rob66
    #1 Rob66 6 March, 2021, 14:02

    Been a huge fan since seeing him in a small club here in Upstate New York in 1981. All his records are fantastic. His four lps released on EMI in the ’80s are some of the best rock’n’roll releases of that decade. I always looked forward to his new releases, either solo or with his band. He always gifted us with about one a year. His original songs were catchy gems and his sometimes covers were amazing. (just check out his “The Farrago Sessions”) If you want to hear true rock’n’roll just give a listen to MSB “Live at the Ritz” 1983. Farewell to a real true artist who will be missed by all of us fans who knew his music.

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    • Low Plains Grifter
      Low Plains Grifter 7 March, 2021, 02:18

      I was always partial to his first 2 from 1973. A marvelous voice, and a wonderful singer.
      Another artist in the long history of Ohio music, who deservedly was able to capture some acclaim by
      showcasing his talents to appreciative old fans and new fans alike with several lps.
      A bigger stage awaits him. R.I.P.

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  2. Jeffrey Zandrowicz
    #2 Jeffrey Zandrowicz 7 March, 2021, 10:54

    “My Town” is a Rock ‘N’ Roll oldies classic, that (at least in Buffalo) does not get any airplay. I betcha if (Buffalo) would play his music, they would love him like they do in Cleveland.

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  3. Amy
    #3 Amy 7 March, 2021, 21:11

    RIP Michael Stanley, a true legend and so much a part of growing up in Ohio. I can still remember those Blossom Music Center nights and MSB playing sold out shows.

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