Remembering Mikey: Watch Widespread Panic Go On ‘Vacation’ At The 1st Bonnaroo
The founding lead guitarist and namesake of Widespread Panic led the group through “Vacation” for the last time on June 22, 2002.
While Widespread Panic have valiantly perservered and created amazing music over the past 21 years, there’s no denying that the band’s sound changed in a major way after the death of founding guitarist and namesake Michael Houser on this date in 2002. An example can be found in a video shared today featuring the classic lineup’s “Vacation” performance from the inaugural Bonnaroo on June 22, 2002.
When Houser and bandmates guitarist John Bell, bassist Dave Schools, percussionist Domingo “Sunny” Ortiz, keyboardist JoJo Hermann and drummer Todd Nance arrived at the three-day festival on The Bonnaroo Farm in Manchester, Tennessee word has spread among most fans of Mikey’s illness. Houser was diagnosed with a terminal form of pancreatic cancer and toured until he couldn’t, performing his last show on July 2, 2002 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Widespread Panic’s Bonnaroo sets were upbeat affairs heavy on special guests. The finale on June 22, 2002 included appearances from Dottie Peoples and the People’s Choice Choir, Steve Winwood, DJ Logic, Leon Mobley, Randall Bramblett and George McConnell. Both Bramblett and McConnell toured with Panic that summer to fill the spots and shows Houser couldn’t.
“Vacation” came on June 22, 2002 after “Drums” with DJ Logic and Leon Mobley ended the string of collaborations. It was now time for a solemn trip featuring Michael “Mikey” Houser as its guide. JoJo’s B3 sang but not as powerfully as Mikey. The crowd exploded at each line including how “we’re so glad you could make it.” Unsurprisingly, Widespread Panic never played “Vacation” with Houser again. Instead, they fittingly left the final version as the perfection that took place at the first Bonnaroo.
See Mikey lead Widespread Panic on “Vacation” for the last time below:
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