Michael and Spider Farewell Performance At The Akbar Club Cancelled
Sadly, gay musicians and same sex rights activists Michael and Spider have announced the cancellation of their performance at the Akbar Club.
Hi everyone. I feel so bad that Peter and Scott were kind enough to book us at Akbar, bad that Chris and Roy and Marc have been working so hard to learn all of our songs, bad for all of our friends who have booked flights and hotels, but unfortunately we will not be able to perform on April 24th.
Spider is in increasing pain and getting weaker by the day and there is no way he can make the trip to L.A. I feel bad because he wanted so desperately to play guitar for you all one last time, and he feels like he is letting everyone down. In fact, he cried like a baby this morning telling me how awful he feels about letting everyone down and keep in mind that Spider never cries like that.
The fact is his liver is starting to give out on him and it is very possible the end closer than we thought. Please understand that when we booked this show three months ago, Spider appeared to be doing fine, but that is not the case now. With each passing day he seems to be getting worse. In fact, it is alarming how quickly he seems to be going down just in the last few days and I’m thinking he needs to go into hospice immediately.
Please send positive thoughts and well wishes and prayers for Spider. He is such an incredible and loving and strong man and he has fought this horrible disease with every thing he’s got (and probably lived much longer than many), but it is a losing battle.
Cancer! It is one of the worst things that can happen to someone and I hope that someday others won’t have to go through what Spider is going through.
Original Post Below
Gay musicians and gay pioneers, Gay Musicians Michael and Spider (Michael Ely and Spider Taylor) are making a very rare public appearance at 9:00 pm on Friday, April 24th, performing live for the last time at the Akbar club, on West Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles. The couple, who’ve been together for over 43 years, and who were married in Arizona, founded the the underground Los Angeles music scene bands Hey Taxi!, Red Wedding, and Glass, between the years of 1979 and 1987. Michael was the singer and lyricist (known for his dark and romantic lyrics), and Spider was the lead guitarist (known for his both sonic and sensual guitar gifts).
The April 24th Akbar show will feature songs from the vast repertoire of Michael and Spider, select pieces written for all of their various bands, and music projects that span over four decades. Sharing the stage with them, will be Chris Christensen on drums, Roy Felig on bass, along with special guest appearances by guitar god Pierre Smith, and keyboardist extraordinaire, Marc Zavatsky. There will also be an opening performance by the fabulous actor and performing artist, John Fleck. John and Red Wedding once shared a stage at the Lhasa Club, back in 1982.
Hey Taxi! is probably best known for their punk single, “I Hate Dogs” on Mystic Records, a single reissued on pink vinyl by Mystic Records last year. The band is also known because George Hurley (of Minuteman fame) was the drummer.
Red Wedding was part of the post-punk music scene, a house band at the long gone, but not forgotten, Brave Dog club owned by close friends Clare Glidden and Jack Marquette. The band was also the headliner at the very first Theoretical Party (a series of gay friendly Sunday afternoon parties featuring local bands).
Red Wedding was infamous within the industry because all four original members were openly gay at a time when most gay rock performers (actually all gays) were keeping it on the down low. Red Wedding’s music was a well crafted mix of psychedelic, glam, goth and punk rock, often hard to describe, but always very theatrical. The band made two appearances on the syndicated New Wave Theatre television show, which was rare, and today the performances are available on YouTube.
In 1982, Red Wedding was featured in a full page article in the L.A. Weekly, and released the first of two extended play albums, with the second released in 1984. The band played at all the top clubs of their day, in both Los Angeles and San Diego, sharing stages with Killing Joke, Romeo Void, X, Suburban Lawns, Gun Club, 45 Grave, Psi Com (an early incarnation of Jane’s Addiction), The Sparks, The Bangs (an early incarnation of the Bangles), Specimen, Nina Hagen, and many others. According to a Billboard Magazine review at the time, Red Wedding was the best band to come out of the Los Angeles post punk scene. More than three decades later, in 2014, an anthology collection of their songs was released on vinyl by the Italian label, ‘Synthetic Shadows’, part of the bigger Rave Up label.
Michael and Spider have lived in Tucson, Arizona for the past twenty years, and, as a two man song writing team, have released four CDs on Aural Fixation Records under the name of Smoke & Mirrors, each a collection of soundscapes inspired by the Sonoran Desert, Hindu deities, Alice in Wonderland, and vintage exotica music.
In November of 2013, Spider was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. He was originally given only six months to live, but he is still going strong, thanks to chemotherapy treatments and a positive attitude. But, science can only do so much. This will be the first time that Michael and Spider have performed live on stage together since 1987. Because of Spider’s struggles with cancer, it will also be their last performance together, their swan song.
To learn more about Michael and Spider, check out their website at www.michaelandspider.com. Be sure to also check out Michael’s very honest and moving blog, my-life-on-parade.thumblr.com, which chronicles his life with Spider, their experiences in music, and Spider’s struggles to survive cancer.
Take a few minutes to enjoy a photographic journey of Michael and Spider’s professional career and personal life, set to the song “French Sailors” from their album Iridescent Garden. Now together as a couple now for four decades, few remember the hardships faced by gay couples almost a half century ago. While many other gay musicians of that era succumbed to addictions, died from aids or disappeared into oblivion, somehow Michael and Spider not only survived, they thrived.
UPDATE: Sadly, Spider was taken by cancer on May 21st, 2015, and the world lost a magical musician who Eddie Van Halen claimed was the greatest guitarist who ever lived. Michael has since met another wonderful man, who’s supported Michael’s successful fight in the U.S. Supreme Court to receive gay spousal benefits. Michael’s courage and determination to make Spider proud made United States history, entrenching forever the legal right for the LGBTQ+ community nationwide to receive spousal benefits.