Wednesday, July 19, 2006

R.I.P., Mike O'Neill

Just this afternoon, I heard the terrible news that Mike O'Neill died, in a manner that was particularly tragic. I can't stop thinking about it.

I don't feel like saying anything profound, so I'll just say this: Mike will be missed, by a LOT of people in local-music and newspaper circles in the Tampa Bay area. He was a great guy, almost always easygoing, with a wide circle of friends who, I gather, were working hard to help him climb out from under the dark clouds.

We weren't close, but I'm awfully glad I got to know him during the years we worked together on Friday Extra at the Tampa Tribune. I hadn't kept up with Mike in recent years. The last time I saw him was at a WMNF multi-band tribute show that we both played at Skipper's.

Mike was a gifted singer, songwriter, guitarist and bandleader. His stuff, I guess, might have been called altrock in the Monday Mornings days, circa the early '90s (my old band played a double bill with Monday Mornings, way back when, at Cafe Creole). After Monday Mornings broke up, Mike went on to lead Nailbiters, and then The Unrequited Loves.

His sound essentially was moody, hard-driving rock, and his smart lyrics and often ragged voice together came off as angry, vulnerable, harsh but affecting. I always thought that he was just a few steps from breaking through to a much larger audience.

Anyone interested in checking out Mike's music should go to his myspace site.

It's hard to believe that he's gone.


Brigheon said...

Phil, our thoughts go out to you and Mike's friends and family. Deaths as tragic as this always make us re-examine our own lives. Come visit soon - we miss you. ~Marc & Bridget

Philip Booth said...

Thanks for responding. Yes, I would like to see what the Land of Cheese looks like some day. Hope the move has gone well for you all.