At the age of 19, Mike and his brother Robert started “goofing around” with the acoustic and electric guitar. They borrowed equipment from friends who played and wanted to see if they could “pick it up”. They learned a few chords and some easy leads but Mike was looking for more. Music was in his blood! He was influenced by his Dad who was a professional jazz saxophonist for the Lawrence Welk and Barbara Streisand bands. But unlike their father, Mike and his brother were “Rockers”! The next thing on their list was to “actually have” an electric guitar and the required equipment.
They were able to purchase a couple guitars, “a Sekova and Montgomery Ward” model, along with an old, noisy Fender Twin Reverb amp. Soon they were jamming with some friends who played drums and guitar, but something was missing. Mike saved some money and went to the local Nichols’ department store and bought a ¾ scale bass, not sure of the model “probably a Nichols’ brand.” He started learning to play the bass, which sounded terrible through a guitar amp, “not to mention what it does to the speakers!” So, next on the list, “more POWER!”
Mike had a little electronic inclination and decided to build an amp with the power he needed. Here are the ingredients for one homemade bass amp:
1. An old Heathkit 250 watt stereo amp
2. Radio Shack 15” Bass speakers
3. 3 sheets of particle board and screws from Lowes
4. Wheels from a Rubbermaid trash can
After a few hours, Mike had constructed his first bass rig.
Soon invitations came rolling in for him to play with local bands. After about a year of “scratching around”, he started playing out as a member of Starfighter, which featured two bass players. After Starfighter’s break up, he did some acoustic duets with his friend Ronnie Knupp. Not long after, Mike hooked up with Ricky Haymaker, a very talented friend from school, who invited him to his house for an impromptu jam with a few other local musicians including Terry Oates. This musicians’ haven was where an obscure/classic rock version of The Blue Max was born.
After a couple years playing local bar gigs, parties and wedding receptions with The Blue Max, Mike drifted around the local music scene performing a variety of musical genres from speed/def metal to pop and dance. He was then approached to audition for Nightrider, a band that he used to sneak into bars with the older guys so he could see them play. The audition was a success and he settled in for a four year run as a member of Nightrider. However, life’s responsibilities were the downfall of Nightrider and the members were drawn back into their regular lives.
The “gig itch” got to a couple of the former members of Nightrider and they asked Mike to start practicing once a week, The Rumblers were born. Several gigs and good times later, that responsibility thing reared its head and this time Mike was ready for a break. But only a few weeks later, Terry Oates asked Mike if he’d be interested in playing with the Mudcats .He accepted and his break was short, ”No rest for the wicked”!
Mike has since been an integral part of the rhythm section that drives the “Mudcats” and has made many contributions to the bands growth and creativity! We are very pleased to have him as a part of the Terry Oates and the Mudcats family!
And as proud member of the Mudcat family, Mike would like to credit the following :
“Mom and Dad, I wouldn’t be here without you and Thanks for the Music! To my wife Charlene for her patience, gear upgrade help, and the liberty to do what I love!”