The late, great Michael Houser of Widespread Panic would have turned 60 years old today. Co-founding Widespread Panic in the mid-1980s with guitarist John Bell, bassist Dave Schools, drummer Todd Nance, and later, percussion player Domingo “Sunny” Ortiz, Houser and company set the course that has established Widespread Panic as one of the preeminent touring bands of the past 30 years.
In early 2002, Houser was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, opting to play with Widespread Panic on the road until he was physically unable. Though it was a truly emotional time, Houser showed great strength and resilience during his final days, playing his last show just one month before his untimely death on August 10th, 2002. Houser’s unique sound still echoes through the current incarnation of the band, though never truly duplicated, and the silhouetted image of Houser seated on his ever-present stool, humbly wailing away as his curly locks flow in the wind, still emblazons everything from shirts to flags and beyond; an ever-present symbol forever tied to the band, not unlike the Grateful Dead‘s Stealie.
Houser will always be remembered for his potent, powerful written lyrics as well as his raw, commanding guitar playing, and extraordinarily kind and humble soul.
In remembering the late guitarist’s brilliance on his birthday, here are 10 videos of Houser at his peak with Widespread Panic:
“The Take Out” > “Porch Song” – Hayden Square – Tempe, AZ – 5/18/95
“Space Wrangler” & “Tall Boy” – Tennessee Theater – Knoxville, TN – 10/21/96
“Pilgrims” – Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall – Kansas City, KS – 6/21/97
“Airplane” – Macon City Auditorium – Macon, GA – 11/2/98
“Ain’t Life Grand” – Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Morrison, CO – 6/25/99
[Video: Jared Gore]
“Galleon” – Civic Center – Albany, GA – 4/9/00
Set Two – Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Morrison, CO – 6/24/00
“Barstools and Dreamers” – Kiefer Lakefront Arena – University of New Orleans – New Orleans, LA – 10/28/01
“Chilly Water” > “Visiting Day” > “Chilly Water” – Oak Mountain Amphitheatre – Pelham, AL – 4/28/02
“The Waker” – Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Morrison, CO – 6/28/02
Happy Birthday, Mikey, you’ll always be missed…
[Originally published 1/6/18]