I'm very sorry indeed to announce that Mike Gebhardt (at the front of the picture, taken at one of the White Horse evenings), a staunch friend of the band, known to many of us on both sides of the Atlantic, passed away at 1300 hours on May 13th.
Jim Policke commented:
"A lifetime Strawbs fan, he was talking about catching what he knew would be his last show when the band played here in June. Unfortunately, his health declined more rapidly than we expected. He is survived by his companion, Ms. Dawn Daisley, son Justin, and mother Eleanor. Condolences may be sent to Ms. Dawn Daisley, 103 Drake Court, West Islip NY 11795."
The cremation is took place on Friday, May 16th.
The family has requested that donations be made to charity. Suggested charities: Teenage Cancer Trust in the UK; the VH1 music charity for autistic children in America.
Lisa-Seckler Roode went to the hospital the day before he died to tell him how much we all cared for him.
"I am so sad to hear of the passing of Mike Gebhardt. He was a true friend and I will never forget him sitting in the front row at BB King's on our visit last year. Unfortunately he wasn't well enough to take on his regular role as guitar tech. I had to tune the guitars myself!
I will miss him, that's all I can say."
I first met Mike when he strolled in alone to a bar I was playing at on Long Island, around 2000 and then started hanging out where ever I played from then on. I often teased him in later years, "that of all the bars, in all the world he had to walk into mine!" He wrote a review of one of my shows where his name first appeared on the Strawbs website.
I sensed early on that this guy had a great knowledge of Strawbs music, as he would sing along rather loudly if I played anything related to them. He soon brought along his lifelong friend, Jim Policke, who eventually was to run my first website. Soon they were close friends of mine, becoming roadies, drivers, suppliers of scotch and cokes on stage. Mike was the fastest broken string changer in the business, to which the Strawbs would surely agree. It was ironical that Mike and my ex-wife Allison knew of each other back in their college days, but didn't realise it for quite a while, until after we had all become friends.
It was during this period that I was about to fly over for a Strawbs tour and Mike insisted that he accompany me, and that was the beginning of his liaison with the band and greater Strawbs family. In fact, when the Acoustic Strawbs first toured North America, he was there picking them up at the airport, organising three bar stools for the shows, driving and even having Strawbs guitar picks made to promote them. One winter, I was snowbound at my house and he drove over with a shovel to help dig me out, but that's the type of guy he was.
If you have ever listened to "Prime Time Religion" on my Natural High album, that's Mike blowing in the background on lead guitar. Mike was also a fixture at my local music store, and would participate in the annual Christmas Guitar Jam.
As I sit writing this in my studio, hanging on the wall is a Beatles lithograph that Mike bought for me one Christmas. The last time we met was at a party last year and although he was very sick, he was still joking around like he always did. Knowing Mike, I am sure he is looking down now, and getting a kick out of being on the front page of the Strawbs website. He will surely be missed.
Very sad news of Mike Gebhardt's untimely passing, especially being in the prime of his life. Indeed, a great Strawbs fan he was and the loss of his presence be felt by all who knew him. My heartfelt sympathies go out to Dawn, his son, Justin, his mother, Eleanor and other family members.
"I too am very sad indeed that Mike is no longer with us. I've known Mike for 7 years or so, since he travelled over to the UK for shows with the electric band in 2000 and 2001, and have always thoroughly enjoyed his company when I've spent time with him. He was truly a great friend of the band, taking time off from work to guitar tech the 2004 electric tour in North America. His great good humour, common sense will be sorely missed.
I recall our hot and lengthy trip from Canada down to the US on the day after a public holiday (good planning - a 5 hour wait at the border!), which got close to exhausting even Mike's enormous store of anecdotes and humorous comments. And I'll remember a splendid evening a while back with Mike and Dawn in Brooklyn, wandering round the bars and venues near their home: it's a great sadness that I wasn't able to fix my schedule when I was in the US in March earlier this year to get over to see them.
And, finally I have to recall Mike's catchphrase, from that very first trip over when I was picking him up from his hotel near Euston Station prior to driving him a gig. Presumably on the assumption (common to many non-Brits) than London is so small we all have to know each other personally, that he spent some time "looking for Dick" near his hotel - now Euston is an area where that particular phrase might produce spectacularly unusual results (!) But he loved the phrase and never failed to quote it when I saw him. An irreverent thought, maybe out of place at this time, but I think Mike's sense of humour would have liked it."
Pictures below from Les Cotton, taken in Bristol CT, at Joe Langer's party, of Mike presenting DC with a "Certificate" in Banjo playing, Les recalls "I think it was....in typical Mike style, very tongue in cheek!" Les enlarged the "stage pass" around Mike's neck...you can just make out "Automotive Manager, Instrument tech"....and DC's hand-written "+ Bullsh*t"...haha!!
Really sad news - Mike was very popular and also a very good guitar technician from all accounts. I only met him once, which was at the Bloomsbury Theatre which I suppose must have been 2000? Prior to the gig was the first ever arranged meeting of Witchwooders (thanks Dick and Steve - hope I haven't forgotten anyone else involved in that), and it was with some trepidation that my friend Christine and I decided to go and see what it was all about. We decided we'd make a get-away if it turned out to be a load of obsessive Strawbs fans ;-) Ok, it was, but it was great fun and I remember chatting to Mike a fair bit there and also after the gig. He told me how he'd always been a huge Strawbs fan and one day just happened upon a NY bar when the musician playing caught his attention - he was astonished to see it was John Ford! He was full of delight just recounting that memory, and it was that association with John which first led him over to the UK to see the band. He later played electric guitar on one of John's songs - "Prime Time Religion" on John's "Natural High" solo album. You could say that made him rather happy!
I remember him showing around photos of his guitars which were obviously a great passion of his, so I'm sure he was in his element acting as guitar tech for the band. He put the photos in Witchwood files too (that's the "Files" section in the menu to your left) under "MikeGGuitars".
I've posted a copy of the flyer for the forthcoming UK tour in the files under "Strawbs Tour Poster 08". Dave Lambert has pointed out that the poster has a certain poignancy about it as the pedal-board and amplifier he is using in the photo belongs to Mike. Dave is sure Mike would have liked mention made of that.
The Strawbs world has certainly lost one of its brightest stars.
If it wasn't for Mike, I probably would never have met the band. I met Mike in Toronto in 2003. We had exchanged a couple of e-mails just stating we were both going to the gig. I'd seen them in NY in July of that year but being unaware of the meet & greet after the show, I simply picked up a few CDs and went home. In Toronto, I finally caught on that they stick around and sign stuff. So I stayed a bit and when the meet & greet was winding down, was about to leave for my hotel, having an early flight the following day. "Oh no you're not," Mike said. "You're coming to the bar with us." I was thrilled and petrified at the same time! Actually socializing with my long-time idols??
When he worked the 2004 tour as guitar tech, I made him a silly name badge that identified him as Vice President/Beer Acquisition, Fleet Management, Crowd Control and a few other silly responsibilities. He got such a kick out of it, he showed it to Cousins who whipped out a Sharpie and added "And bullshit!" Mike loved that. And I was thrilled that a few YEARS later, at Joe Langer's gig, Mike actually wore the badge when he presented Cousins with the banjo award.
We'll all miss Mike. And my heart goes out to Dawn who must be overwhelmed with sadness. While I never got to know Dawn too well, my husband and I spent a lovely afternoon on Dawn's boat early in her and Mike's relationship. So often, when someone's seriously ill, we forget about the partner and what they have to bear. By standing by Mike these last couple of years, she's proven what a dedicated, loving and courageous woman she is.
(PS. Just checked Witchwood and I can't believe it! The name badge that I made for Mike (mentioned in my post about his passing) is featured in the photos! I am so touched by that!)
I too befriended Mike from Witchwood. He was the first I ever met from this Strawb haven. First we exchanged e-mails and then became Instant Messenger Buddies. He was very cool and very proud to become so much a part of the return to action of one of our favorite bands growing up seperately here on Long Island.
Mike, John Ford and I took in a local Guitar show once.It was great meet John while Mike was looking for a guitar for his child. Not many know that Mike got Dave Cousins his red Gretch Acoustic off the ebay. I am also suprised that no one mentioned that Mike was responsible for the acoustic trio's comfy stools, LOL.
I will also never forget Mike's long black Chevrolet Monte Carlo that ushered many a Strawb and Strawb fans from place to place. He was very proud of it.
Most of all I will just miss Mike. A man who began to live some of his dreams late in life and enjoyed all of it so much.
The first time I saw Mike Gebhardt was in December 2003 at Kroghs in Sparta, NJ. That was also my first Strawbs show. He was busily running around for the band, but stopped once during the performance of Tears and Pavan to lead the audience in the flamenco clapping. He looked like a kid at Christmas. Mike was in his glory with the band.
When I was formally introduced to him in Toronto in the Summer of 2004, he came over and said he recognized me from Sparta. I asked if he worked from the band and what his job was. He said,"keeper of the stools and vice president of beer acquisition." That was Mike's sense of humor in a nutshell.
Ever since then, Mike would come over to my table at every Strawbs show and make a point of saying hello and having a chat with my family and friends. The last time I saw him was last year at The Strand Theater in Lakewood after the Electric Strawbs show. I knew he was sick. We were talking and I asked to get a picture with him, not knowing that it would be the last time I would see him. As we looked for an appropriate spot for the picture, Mike pointed out the door with the EXIT sign behind him. He looked at me, shrugged and said "with the way I'm going, that seems appropriate." Dark, yes, but very funny. His sense of humor kept him going and I admire him for that. I'll miss him.
There are no words to express the sadness over Mike's passing. He was an incredible person; my brother, my friend.kind, thoughtful, caring and generous to a fault. His sense of humor was unfailing throughout this ordeal. He (along with our lovely Neil) kept it together while chaos reigned at times.
Mike was already ill at the last Lakewood show. During "Hero...." he was dancing in the aisle at the back of the theater. He turned around with a HUGE grin on his face and said "I'm in heaven". THIS IS HOW I CHOOSE TO REMEMBER HIM..... DANCING IN THE AISLES.
If in fact there's an afterlife, mike is running around heaven "meet and greet-ing" Keith Moon, John Entwistle, Jimi Hendrix, Gram Parsons, Joplin, Morrison you name 'em.... tuning and restringing, and loading the chariots for a gig.
Beverly and I would like to pass along our most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mike Gebhardt. We met Mike a few years back at (surprise-surprise) a Strawbs gig. After which time we would always have a pleasant chat with Mike whenever Strawbs were in town. When we enquired as to his whereabouts after the last Cousins solo jaunt, we were sadly informed as to his deteriorating health condition.
A funny remembrance I have of Mike took place after a gig and we (me, Mike, Bev and a rabid Strawbs fan) were sitting in some seedy gin mill in the wilds of up-state NY. My friend, knowing that Mike was traveling with the band as Dave's guitar roadie, was peppering Mike with every conceivable question regarding travel with Strawbs. At one point Mike says that to travel successfully with this band one must know the answer to 3 questions, in this order; a) where's the bar, b) where's the loo c) when's last call, and just then - almost on cue - Lamby walks in, heads straight over to Mike and asks 'Where's the loo'? We all wet our drawers laughing.
BTW Mike --The stools were magnificent!
No witty anecdotes I'm afraid. I met Mike for the only time, to my knowledge, at the same Bloomsbury gig as Lindsay, where I also met her, Christine & Paco for the first time so it sticks in the memory. He was a witty guy then and I've followed some of his exploits, especially the stools, through various Witchwood reviews from across the pond. A great fan and a sad loss. Condolences to family and friends.
Me too- I met Mike at The Bloomsbury. He was blown away to be there, and his enthusiasm was a delight. I remember having a laugh and a chat with him both before and after the gig. A true Witchwooder.
I met Mike many times and had a chance to hang out a bit a talk shop. A truly wonderful person. I last saw him at B.B.'s. We had a brief chat. I hadn't realized he was sick. I hadn't seen him at any gigs in awhile. Well, I missed him at the gigs and I truly miss him now. We love you Mike. Play on, play on.
I have a photo of Mike, Dave and myself.. It is so much more a keepsake now. Yeah, Mike , we did have quite a few laughs. We miss you.
A very sad time, indeed. I remember meeting Mike for the first time when Naima and I went to the Strawbs' gig at the Towne Crier in Pawling in November 2003 (on the day that was our 2nd anniversary together). He sold me a "Strawbs Over America" T-shirt, and I remember his energy and his enthusiasm; and I remember that both DC and DL broke strings on their guitars during the course of the evening. Mike G to the rescue, of course...
The second (and last) time I met him was at the annual Witchwood get-together in NYC in 2004; all the usual American suspects were present, too...Judi (and speaking of "looking for Dick,"--sorry, Judi!--that was the evening she announced "I love Dick! Dick is great!" outside the White Horse, which isn't far from Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, which, like Euston...well, you all get the idea *g*), Jim P. (hi, Jim!), and, among others, John Ford. Mike G was there, too; I had my Strawbs T-shirt on, and he remembered me immediately. It was a good time, despite some of the problems we had with the White Horse staff.
Were I able, I'd come to the viewing as well. My condolences to Dawn.
PS. This just occurred to me; the last verse of "I'll Carry on Beside You," as a sort of elegy to Mike:
"Deep is the grave; may you rest in peace
Preparing yourself for the next time
While you still need to carry on
I'll carry on beside you."
But then again...we'll meet again sometime. And when it happens, we'll have the chance to say, "Hey, it's been a long time, it's good to see you again." Until then... RIP Mike...we'll all miss you.
My heart goes out to Mike's family and friends. They are in my thoughts and prayers.
I met Mike for the first time at the 2002 Witchwood get together at the White Horse. It was a wonderful evening (though I drank way too much!). I always looked forward to seeing Mike at the gigs - his presence was a bright spot as he was always radiating happiness and joy. Everyone wanted to be around Mike. Mike loved life and he shared that love with everyone he met. Something I greatly admire and try to emulate. I last saw him at the Strand and was quite saddened by his appearance. However, his mood was still bright - still on his terms. Though I saw him infrequently, he will forever remain in my memory.
Devastating news. Mike was a wonderful person. Bob and I met him some years back, 03 I believe, at an acoustic Strawbs show. He was a delightful guy with a wonderful sense of humour, and a brilliant mind. He will be greatly missed. All condolences to Dawn in this terrible time.