Shuffle: Cleveland Rocker Michael Stanley's Cottage Industry Is Still Thriving In The Heartland

Apr 13, 2017

Michael Stanley plays a sold out Akron Civic Theater April 21
Credit JOE KLEON/G4FORCE STUDIOS

Next week, Northeast Ohio rocker Michael Stanley returns to The Akron Civic Theater for the first time in nearly 40 years.

The Rocky River native has become a Cleveland icon during his decades-long career. And he's still going, despite being diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier this year.

In this week’s Shuffle, Akron Beacon Journal music writer Malcolm Abram talks about Stanley's career --still going strong in his hometown. 

Abram describes Stanley’s ‘heartland’ sound as “real songs for real people.” Now 68, Stanley has kept himself busy over the decades, releasing what amounts to an album a year for “seven, eight, a decade or so.”

His most recent release, “In A Very Short Time,”came out last fall.

"He's very aware of his place and he knows his audience and his audience is incredibly loyal," Abram says. 

Stanley is playing his first show at The Akron Civic Theater since 1978. The opener back then was a little-known artist named Billy Joel, who’s playing a sold-out concert at Progressive Field this summer. Abram says Stanley remembers that earlier show and said, “A week later, [Joel] was an international superstar.”

Stanley had his heyday in the 1970’s and ‘80’s, most notably when The Michael Stanley Band sold out a four-night stand at Blossom Music Center in August 1982. The shows drew 74,404 fans, a record that stands today.

But "he’s apparently never wanted to be a rock star," Abram says. "So he stayed here where the people who loved him are. He was on PM Magazine. He’s been on WNCX for years and years and continues to play concerts in Northeast Ohio.

"He’s king of his castle. If you were a musician and you could play for 40 years and just work and play, it’s a pretty sweet deal."

Earlier this year, Stanley was diagnosed with prostate cancer and has taken on the role of an advocate for men getting regular screenings. He credits his late wife for encouraging him to get checked. 

Malcolm says you can still expect the hits at a Stanley concert, like “My Town and “Rosewood Bitters.” But, the new songs keep coming. Fresh off of last year’s release, Abram says Stanley is working on a new record due out this year.