Wheezing Maniac’s Mike Byrd R.I.P.

Words by Marvin Munson, 
a close friend of Mike and 
band member of WHEEZING MANIAC

The world lost a gifted and inventive guitarist this week when Mike Byrd, the lead guitarist, co-vocalist, and songwriter for the skaterock/punk band Wheezing Maniac, died.

Formed in the Southern California desert town of El Centro, CA and later moving to San Diego, the band embraced the DIY spirit of the punk rock scene, self releasing their tapes, and eschewing any fixed musical genre to express their musical identity. Authenticity was paramount, and the band used the active zine culture, promoting itself through punk periodicals such as Maximum Rock & Roll.

Though the band’s active years were short lived, and they eventually moved on to other projects, Wheezing Maniac’s fan base grew after the band’s demise, due to their inclusion on the seminal and beloved skateboard video Hokus Pokus from the H-Street skateboard company. The video, itself somewhat of a revolution in DIY aesthetics, gave the band a huge afterlife when the internet became a medium to share videos, music, and culture.

Byrd, a self taught guitarist, was fluid in a variety of styles and possibilities, creating inventive phrasing that sometimes caused the music to somehow be both propulsive and apprehensive at the same time. Rarely did two songs sound alike, because he had a well-spring of ideas that would drive the music in different directions. Although the recordings are sometimes unpolished, fans react to the authenticity and freshness of spirit of a band that is not trying to sell you on their ideas, but showing you a world of their own creation, that you can take or leave as you see fit.

Byrd succumbed to heart failure brought on by a variety of long standing health issues, and died peacefully at El Centro Regional Medical Center on July 21st 2020 at 1:01 AM. He was 51. His music can be heard on Spotify, iTunes, and Youtube.

Rest in Peace Mike Byrd…

WHEEZING MANIAC YOUTUBE

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTXwsupFaVFEHI2oQ0CbMfw

WHEEZING MANIAC ON SPOTIFY

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