Longtime Youngstown DJ displays on dying of Michael Stanley

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Hardly a day went by without John playing a Michael Stanley song – or two or three

by: Stan Boney

Posted: Mar 6, 2021 / 2:46 PM EST
Updated: March 6, 2021 / 2:46 PM EST

Thomas John appreciates this framed, signed photo of Michael Stanley that hangs on the wall in his basement.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Even before the Zoom interview began, Thomas John turned his cell phone around and displayed a large photo on the wall of his basement office.

Pictured was a head and shoulder shot of Michael Stanley singing into a microphone. It was signed: “TJ Thanks for all of your help! You are a rocker! Michael Stanley. “

“I was literally stunned,” said John when he found out Cleveland legendary rock and roll star Michael Stanley died of lung cancer on Friday.

John himself sat behind the microphone in the 1970s and 80s as a disc jockey in the afternoons at the radio station WSRD, nicknamed “The Wizzard”.

Hardly a day went by without John playing a Michael Stanley song – or two or three.

“The live double album ‘Stage Pass’ was recorded in Cleveland and would be seen at the Agora [in Youngstown] and it was exactly the same mood, ”said John. “I mean, you felt part of this album when you weren’t.”

John was close friends with Stanley and the rest of the band, three of whom – Gary Markasky, Michael Gismondi and Dan Pecchio – were from Youngstown.

John even attended some recording sessions.

“There was really a lot of ‘us versus the world’ feeling,” he said.

John called the Michael Stanley song “Midwest, Midnight” the “greatest song on the music industry”. He says the song explains why the Michael Stanley Band was a large regional band, but never large nationally.

“They were a band and they got signed and everything was great,” said John. “But all the record companies that took care of it were the foreign bands that signed them. So they didn’t give him any support. They never got the record label boost they should have. “

For 12 years, Thomas John introduced the bands he was paid to run at the Agora in downtown Youngstown. But only once, after a concert by Michael Stanley, did he forget to get his check.

“It was until the end of the night and I said, ‘Wow. That was the coolest thing. ‘And I walk out the door and walk down Federal Street and I realize I never got paid. And I went back. “Said John. “That’s the kind of impact they had.”

John mentioned that the Michael Stanley Band broke the Blossom Music Center record for three bedside tables: 64,965 on August 23, 24, and 26, 1981.

“And the record they broke was Led Zepplin’s,” said John. “So that tells you something.”

John’s ultimate homage to Michael Stanley can be heard through his headphones during his daily walks in Poland Woods.

“I have a small MP3 player,” he said. “It has 199 of my all time favorite songs, five of which are Michael Stanley. I hear Michael Stanley walking in the woods almost every day. “