When I was in the seventh grade I began a long friendship with a bassist named Mike Mizia. We both shared a common interest in music and he introduced me to a lot of bands I wouldn’t have otherwise listened to. Not classic or heavy metal bands, I knew about them. But other groups that have stuck with me to this day. Bands like The Cult, REM and INXS. He even turned me onto pop groups like Wilson Phillips a few years later. Mike’s tastes weren’t limited to genres. He loved good music. We spent hours listening to all kinds of music and watching MTV at his house. We also traded cassettes we recorded off our records so we wouldn’t have to buy them ourselves.
In seventh grade we both hatched a plan to ask our parents for “real” musical instruments for Christmas and our plan worked. Mike got a shiny black Ibanez bass and Peavy amp and I got a beautiful set of white Pearl drums. We immediately got together and formed a little duet we called “RATH”. Mike even drew up a cool looking logo that we put on my bass drum. The first song we learned was “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple. We were so proud of ourselves. We eventually got a couple guys to join us and even played an assembly at our Middle School. When we got to High School we tried out and made a band made up of upper classmen called White Lightning. We got good and even played a few parties and competed in a Battle of the Bands. Those were some of our best times in high school.
Mike stuck with music after graduation and went on to play for several successful groups (High Voltage and The Ike McCoy Band) and even recorded some great music. A year ago, he sent me the last CD he recorded, and it sounded great. Mike was still playing at his best. I was always proud to know that we had started out together. Sometimes when I play my drums I flashback to those days and as a goof I start playing “Smoke on the Water.”
Mike passed away suddenly this past week. The comments that are being posted on Facebook are a testament to the friends that Mike leaves behind both musicians and non-musicians alike. We each remember Mike in our own way but we will all miss him together.
Here’s some video of Mike performing with The Ike McCoy Band. You can get a real feel for his bass playing technique: