YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Gary Markasky and Michael Gismondi are both former members of the Michael Stanley Band, and both are natives of Youngstown.
The two men were together Monday, remembering their friend Michael Stanley, who died of lung cancer Saturday at the age of 72.
Markasky played lead guitar, Gismondi bass guitar. They stood together at Mill Creek Park, talking about their friend and his death.
“I just always looked at him like I’ll always have another chance to talk to him, and maybe we’ll get together and jam another time. That’s not to be, now,” Gismondi said.
The two men talked about the great times they had together playing and touring with the Michael Stanley Band, including a 1981 sold-out concert on New Year’s Eve at the Richfield Coliseum.
“He was such a force. And what a great writer and lyricist, too. He had a command of the English vocabulary, too, and his lyrics and all. It was so great,” Markasky said.
“I considered him a hero of mine. Back in the 80s when we played Blossom, for example, my parents came to one of the shows. That was a rarity, and he was so gracious to them, just unbelievably gracious and complimentary of me, and that meant the world to me,” Gismondi said.
Though the Michael Stanley Band never reached national prominence, around Youngstown and in Cleveland, they were a big deal.
“The fan base here is like bigger than anyone’s. It was like the Rolling Stones or the Beatles or something,” Markasky said.
The last time Markasky and Gismondi saw Michael Stanley was July of 2019 when they joined him on stage for a couple of numbers at the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheater.
“He was in good spirits, even considering he was still, probably, on the mend from the quadruple bypass. He performed well. You wouldn’t know it,” Gismondi said.
One way Michael Stanley will be remembered is by leading the crowd in “Strike up the Band,” but Gismondi remembers another song.
“One of his songs was called “The Ground.” One of the lines was “take nothing for granted, hold everything dear,” which to me, there’s infinite wisdom there,” he said.
Both Markasky and Gismondi said there has been talk about having a Michael Stanley tribute concert. They both think right now is too soon. But down the road, once the pain has healed a little, it could happen.