Today, August 10th, marks the seventeenth anniversary of Michael Houser‘s death at the age of 40. Houser was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in early 2002, opting to play with Widespread Panic on the road until he was physically unable. Though it was a truly emotional time, Mikey showed great strength and resilience during his final days, playing his last show just one month before his untimely death. The founding Widespread Panic member is missed by all in the jam scene, particularly the band’s loyal fan base throughout the South and beyond.
In honor of the great guitarist’s memory, we wanted to share some footage from Houser’s final days with Widespread Panic in 2002. Houser and Widespread headlined the first-ever Bonnaroo, where they delivered a truly uplifting version of “Tall Boy” into “Testify” that featured legendary gospel group, Dottie Peoples and The People’s Choice Choir.
Widespread Panic w/ Dottie Peoples and the People’s Choice Choir – “Tall Boy” > “Testify” > “Tall Boy” – 6/22/02
Panic brought that fateful tour to the famed Red Rocks Amphitheatre for a three-night run starting on June 28th. Widespread Panic is synonymous with Red Rocks, having played the iconic venue scores of times throughout their career. They now currently hold the record for most consecutive sold-out shows at the scenic natural amphitheater. The last Widespread Panic Red Rocks performances with Houser were certainly moving, albeit bittersweet.
Widespread Panic – Red Rocks – 6/28/02 – Full Video
[Video: Michael Musgrove]
Just a few days later, on July 2nd, Mikey played his last show with Widespread Panic. With his days numbered, the guitarist gave fans a memorable performance in Cedar Rapids, IA. You can stream the emotional show by following this PanicStream link, and join us in remembering this great guitarist who was taken from us in his prime.
Rest in peace, Mikey Houser, you are loved and missed.
[Originally published 8/10/17]