Michael Houser: 7 Years Gone - We Remember The Lingering Lead
January 6, 1962 - August 10, 2002
It's hard to believe Michael Houser and his lingering lead have been gone for seven years. As we remember the original lead guitarist for Widespread Panic we thought there was no better way to honor the man than to see him in action. Enjoy the burn...
New Orleans 2001 (10/27/01): We start with what just might be Panic's finest moment ever. Impossible to quantify and completely ridiculous to even try, perhaps it's better to say that this is my favorite Panic moment of all time. From October 27, 2001 (my favorite Panic year as a whole) at the UNO Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, LA, this is the dirty-dirty. Mikey just lets it cry while JB and Schools push "Bowlegged Woman" into P-Funk's "Tear The Roof Off The Sucker (Give Up The Funk)," The Who's "Eminence Front," Jackson 5's "I'll Be There" and Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On." At this point in music's history, Widespread Panic was as good as any band anywhere. If Houser hadn't lost his battle to pancreatic cancer there's no limit to what they could have achieved. And that is absolutely no crack at the current, very impressive incarnation of the band. But just check this out...
Bonnaroo 2002 (6/22/02): We all knew Houser was dying. It was just the sad fucking truth, but what do you do with that knowledge? Houser kept playing and so did the fans. We danced and cried and tried to live in the moment. In less than two months he would no longer be with us. During their headlining Bonnaroo blowout out comes Dottie Peoples and The People's Choice Choir for "Tall Boy" > "Testify" > "Tall Boy." It was a special, emotional moment. Speaking to bassist Dave Schools years later he says he couldn't believe how well Houser was playing, and during the church tent gospel rave-up of "Testify" he remembers looking out over the crowd and they were "levitating." It was a night I'll never forget and it brings tears to my eyes to this day. (Check out full coverage of this show here.)
Red Rocks 2002 (6/28/02): Epic Emotional Shows. A thin, frail Mikey just over a month before his death plays inspired guitar at the legendary venue for a crowd of crying, celebrating faithful. Here they are laying out "The Waker," a song Houser wrote for his son Waker. At this point Mikey has barely enough strength to sing, but his guitar work is still overpowering and the context of this show matched by the way Houser looks is enough to break the strongest of men.
Halloween 2000 (10/31/00): For this clip we head to Halloween 2000 in Austin for "Surprise Valley." A peak period for Panic as they were extremely tight and adventurous, Houser was slowly getting sick but no one had any idea at this point.
Continue reading for more of our look back at Michael Houser...