Michael Stanley

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Michael Stanley
Stanley performing in 2002
Stanley performing in 2002
Background information
Birth nameMichael Stanley Gee
Born(1948-03-25)March 25, 1948
OriginCleveland, Ohio, United States
DiedMarch 5, 2021(2021-03-05) (aged 72)
  • Singer-songwriter
  • disc jockey
  • Guitar
  • vocals

Michael Stanley (born Michael Stanley Gee; March 25, 1948 – March 5, 2021) was an American singer-songwriter, musician, radio and television personality. As a solo artist and with the Michael Stanley Band (MSB), and Michael Stanley and the Resonators (MS&R) his brand of heartland rock was popular in Cleveland, Ohio, and around the American Midwest in the 1970s and 1980s.

Early life, family, and education[edit]

Michael Stanley Gee graduated from Rocky River High School[1] in 1966. He attended Hiram College[1] on a baseball scholarship and graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1970.


Early career[edit]

While in college, Michael Stanley was in the band Silk (originally called the Tree Stumps) which released an album, Smooth As Raw Silk, on ABC Records in 1969.[2]

A few years after his graduation, while working as a regional manager for a record store chain, Stanley released his first solo album, Michael Stanley, on Tumbleweed Records in 1973. The album was produced by Bill Szymczyk and featured contributions from Joe Walsh, Todd Rundgren, Rick Derringer, and Joe Vitale.[3] Its first song, "Rosewood Bitters," would become a lifetime fixture in Stanley's shows and was later recorded by Walsh in 1985. Stanley's second solo album, Friends and Legends, released later in 1973 on MCA Records, was again produced by Szymczyk and included support from members of Barnstorm and Stephen Stills' Manassas, among others: Walsh, Vitale, Kenny Passarelli, Paul Harris, Joe Lala, Al Perkins, David Sanborn, Dan Fogelberg, and Richie Furay, with J. Geils contributing to the production.[4]

Michael Stanley Band[edit]

The Michael Stanley Band was formed by Stanley in 1974 with singer-songwriter–lead guitarist Jonah Koslen, former Glass Harp bassist Daniel Pecchio and drummer Tommy Dobeck from the band Circus. There were several personnel changes over the years and by 1982 the group had evolved into a seven-piece band.

Nicknamed MSB by their fans, the band set several attendance records at Cleveland area venues including a record 20,320 at the Richfield Coliseum on July 20, 1979,[5] and a record 40,529 for two Coliseum concerts on December 31, 1981, and January 1, 1982. The band's greatest achievement was a total attendance of 74,404 during a four-night stand at Blossom Music Center on August 25, 26, 30 and 31, 1982.[6]

The group reached the peak of their popularity nationally in 1981 when the single "He Can't Love You" from the album Heartland (written and sung by keyboardist Kevin Raleigh) made the Top 40 (#33 Billboard, #27 Cash Box) and "In the Heartland" from the album North Coast went to #6 on Billboard's Top Tracks chart. Their video for "He Can't Love You" was the 47th video ever played on MTV.[7] The band's last Top 40 hit was "My Town" in 1983. "My Town" has been played by the Ohio State University Marching Band since 1986. The special all-brass and percussion arrangement is a favorite in Ohio Stadium.

The band dissolved in 1987 with a series of 12 farewell shows at the Front Row Theater in Highland Heights, Ohio (suburban Cleveland) during the 1986–87 holiday season.[8]

In 2004, the sketch comedy troupe Last Call Cleveland produced Michael Stanley Superstar: The Unauthorized Autobiography of the Cuyahoga Messiah, a play which parodied Stanley's status as a local celebrity.[9]

  • Michael Stanley – guitar, vocals
  • Jonah Koslen – lead guitar, vocals (1974–77)
  • Daniel Pecchio – bass, vocals (1974–79)
  • Tommy Dobeck – drums
  • Bob Pelander – keyboards (1976–87)
  • Gary Markasky – lead guitar (1978–83)
  • Kevin Raleigh – keyboards, vocals (1978–87)
  • Michael Gismondi – bass (1979–87)
  • Rick Bell – saxophone (1982–84)
  • Danny Powers – lead guitar (1983–87)

Television and radio[edit]

Stanley was the co-host of PM Magazine on WJW Channel 8 from 1987 to 1990 and its follow-up Cleveland Tonight until 1991. He also appeared on The Drew Carey Show, playing himself.

Following a short stint on Cleveland radio station WMMS, from 1990 until a few weeks before his death in 2021, Stanley was the afternoon drive disc jockey for classic rock radio station WNCX, in Cleveland.[10]

In 1993 he appeared on the Howard Stern Radio Show during one of his Birthday Shows, and played Rosewood Bitters with Joe Walsh live.

Later musical career[edit]

In addition to his broadcasting career, after the breakup of the Michael Stanley Band, Stanley continued to write songs, record, and perform with bands (often with some former members of MSB) including Michael Stanley and Friends, the Ghost Poets, the Resonators, and Midlife Chryslers. In 2019, he estimated that the Resonators played about 25 shows per year, many of them in Northeast Ohio but also "from the East Coast to Atlanta to St. Louis." He released about sixteen more albums on Razor & Tie or his own label, Line Level.[10][11]

Personal life[edit]

Stanley was married four times: to Libby Hill Blake, a teacher, from 1970 to 1990, when they divorced; to Mary McCrone, a television producer, for eight years until they divorced in about 2000; to Denise Skinner, a former marketing staffer, from 2002 until her death of cancer in 2011;[note 1] and to her best friend, Ilsa Glanzberg, an elementary school instructional aide, from 2017 until his death in 2021. He had twin daughters, Anna and Sarah, born in 1974, and five grandchildren.[10][12]

Health and death[edit]

Stanley had a first heart attack in 1991, at age 43. In 2017, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Later that year he suffered a second heart attack and underwent quadruple bypass surgery.[11]

Stanley died in his sleep on March 5, 2021, after suffering for seven months with lung cancer.[13]

He is buried in Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, OH.[14]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • 1987–1991 – either one, or "a couple," or eleven, local Emmy awards[11][10][12]
  • 2012 – Cleveland Association of Broadcasters Excellence in Radio Award[15]
  • 2019 – Cleveland Arts Prize’s Lifetime Achievement Award[10]
  • 2019 – The City of Cleveland renamed a section of Huron Avenue in downtown Cleveland as Michael Stanley Way.[16]
  • 2021 – March 25, which would have been his 73rd birthday, declared Michael Stanley Day by the Cleveland City Council[17]




Year Title Label Billboard
1969 Smooth As Raw Silk ABC S-694 191


Year Title Label Billboard
1973 Michael Stanley Tumbleweed TWS 106 206
1973 Friends and Legends MCA 372 207

Michael Stanley Band[edit]

Year Title Label Billboard
1975 You Break It...You Bought It! Epic PE 33492 184
1976 Ladies' Choice Epic PE 33917
1977 Stagepass Epic PEG 34661 207
1978 Cabin Fever Arista AL 4182 99 97[18]
1979 Greatest Hints Arista AL 4236 148
1980 Heartland EMI America SW–17040 86
1981 North Coast EMI America SW–17056 79
1982 MSB EMI America ST–17071 136
1983 You Can't Fight Fashion EMI America ST–17100 64
1984 Fourth and Ten... MSB 101
1986 Inside Moves MSB 201
1992 Right Back at Ya (1971–1983) Razor & Tie RE 1991
1997 Misery Loves Company: More of the Best 1975–1983 Razor & Tie RE 2125
2015 Live at the Ritz NYC 1983 Line Level

The Ghost Poets[edit]

Year Title Label Billboard
1993 The Ghost Poets Razor & Tie RT 2812

Post-MSB solo[edit]

Year Title Label Billboard
1996 Coming Up for Air Intersound 9174
1998 Live in Tangiers: The Acoustic Shows Razor & Tie 82836
2000 MS-LIVE 2K MK 2000-2
2000 Eighteen Down Razor & Tie 82851
2003 The Ground Line Level 201
2005 American Road Line Level 202
2006 The Farrago Sessions Line Level 203
2007 The Soft Addictions Line Level 204
2008 Just Another Night Line Level 205
2009 Shadowland Line Level 206
2012 The Hang Line Level 207
2013 The Ride Line Level 208
2014 The Job Line Level 209
2014 The Solo Years 1995–2014 Line Level 222
2015 And Then... Line Level 210
2016 In a Very Short Time Line Level 211
2017 Stolen Time Line Level 212
2018 The Compact Michael Stanley Line Level
2021 Tough Room Line Level 213


Year A-Side B-Side Label US Pop CAN Pop Album
1973 "Rock and Roll Man" "Denver Rain" Tumbleweed 1010 Michael Stanley
"Rosewood Bitters" "Good Time Charlie" Tumbleweed 1014
1974 "Yours For a Song" "Roll On" MCA 40177 Friends and Legends
1975 "I'm Gonna Love You" "Step the Way" Epic 50116 You Break It...You Bought It!
"Face the Music" "Song for My Children" Epic 50151
1976 "Ladies' Choice" "Sweet Refrain" Epic 50242 Ladies' Choice
1977 "Nothing's Gonna Change My Mind" "Love Hasn't Been Here" Epic 50416 Stagepass
1978 "Why Should Love Be This Way" "Late Show" Arista 0348 Cabin Fever
"Baby If You Wanna Dance" "Fool's Parade" Arista 0368
1979 "Last Night" "Down to the Wire" Arista 0436 Greatest Hints
1980 "He Can't Love You" "Carolyn" EMI America 8063 33 10[19] Heartland
1981 "Lover" "Save a Little Piece for Me" EMI America 8064 68
"Falling in Love Again" "Does It Hurt" EMI America 8090 64 North Coast
"When Your Heart Says It's Right" "Victim of Circumstance" EMI America 8097
1982 "When I'm Holding You Tight" "In Between the Lines" EMI America 8130 78 MSB
"Take the Time" "Just a Little Bit Longer" EMI America 8146 81
1983 "My Town" "Just How Good" EMI America 8178 39 You Can't Fight Fashion
"Someone Like You" "Highlife" EMI America 8189 75
1985 "Show Me Something" "Somebody Else's Woman" MSB 701 Inside Moves
1986 "When All Is Said and Done" "Here Come the Kids" MSB 801
"Poor Side of Town" "Headlights" MSB 901


  1. ^ A different date for Skinner's death, 2017, is listed in Stanley's Akron Beacon-Journal obituary (compare the 2019 Cleveland Magazine profile of Stanley saying 2011, both linked in the footnotes). The 2017 date appears wrong, based on an August 2012 source that discusses "Stanley’s wife, Denise Skinner, who died last September." https://www.mytownneo.com/article/20120805/ENTERTAINMENT/308059697


  1. ^ a b Yarborough, Chuck (August 18, 2014). "Michael Stanley to be honored with tribute concert featuring fans and peers". The Plain Dealer – via Cleveland.com.
  2. ^ Dyer, Bob (September 30, 1979). "The Michael Stanley Band". The Plain Dealer Magazine. p. 24.
  3. ^ Michael Stanley (Vinyl back cover notes). Tumbleweed Records. 1973. TWS106.
  4. ^ Michael Stanley: Friends and Legends (Vinyl back cover notes). MCA Records. 1973. MCA-372.
  5. ^ Holan, Mark (July 26 – August 1, 1979). "The Week That Rocked". Scene: 13.
  6. ^ Faris, Mark (December 14, 1986). "Breaking up is hard to do". Akron Beacon Journal. Retrieved July 28, 2008.
  7. ^ Hoye, Jacob (2001). MTV Uncensored. p. 45.
  8. ^ Adams, Deanna R. (2002). Rock 'n' Roll and the Cleveland Connection. Kent State University Press. pp. 261–268. ISBN 0-87338-691-4.
  9. ^ Heaton, Michael (December 10, 2004). "Michael Stanley parody does resonate a bit". The Plain Dealer. p. E1.
  10. ^ a b c d e Thompson, Lynne (April 29, 2019). "From The Heartland: A Michael Stanley Retrospective". Cleveland Magazine. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  11. ^ a b c Price, Mark J. (March 6, 2021). "Cleveland rock star Michael Stanley dies at 72". Akron Beacon Journal. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  12. ^ a b "Michael GEE Obituary (1948 - 2021) - Mayfield Heights, OH". The Plain Dealer. March 6, 2021. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  13. ^ "Legendary Cleveland rocker and radio personality Michael Stanley dies at 72". Wkyc.com. March 6, 2021. Retrieved March 6, 2021.
  14. ^ https://www.remembermyjourney.com/Search/Cemetery/98/Map?q=Michael%20Stanley%20Gee&searchCemeteryId=98&birthYear=&deathYear=#deceased=23158715
  15. ^ "Awards for Excellence". cabcleveland.com.
  16. ^ Buffington, Randy; Nyorkor, Sia (June 11, 2019). "Cleveland native and musician Michael Stanley to be honored with street in his name". Cleveland19.com. WOIO/WUAB. Retrieved September 10, 2019.
  17. ^ "Cleveland City Council declares March 25 will be Michael Stanley Day". WKYC. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  18. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums - October 21, 1978" (PDF).
  19. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles - February 28, 1981" (PDF).

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]