I grew up in the Chicago suburbs so of course I listened to WLS, graduating to WLUP, the Loop (remember those ubiquitous tshirts?) then WXRT. Then I kind of gave up radio and worked in a record store and married the cutest record store guy ever. An extremely simplified version of my musical path would look something like this:
Bay City Rollers → Elton John → Van Halen
I am saddened by the loss of a great musician that was on that pathway of mine, the utterly inimitable Mike Henderson. He was a founding member of the Dead Reckoning label. I’ve written before about Dead Reckoning, here and here, so I won’t do that again. Suffice to say it was incredible group of musicians: Kieran Kane, Kevin Welch, Harry Stinson, Tammy Rogers and Mike Henderson, as well as our beloved Fats Kaplin.
Ernie sold the hell out of Dead Reckoning stuff back in the day at Periscope in downtown Champaign. We were utterly devoted to them. They did an in-store once and I got to cook dinner for all them. As I recall it was pretty damn good.
Heady times. It felt like a moment full of possibility. The wonderful thing about Dead Reckoning was the balance between all the musicians….tone, personality, feel. All of it. We were so lucky to be able to see them so many times. Extraordinary musicians and people.
Henderson wasn’t just a great songwriter, singer and extraordinary guitarist, he was the musician that all the other musicians had a boycrush on. I think we all wanted him and Kevin Welch to just do a buddy movie. They almost did in a couple of Kevin’s videos. Henderson bought Ernie a beer once and gave him his phone number and I thought Ernie was going to pop right open.
Later he went on to found the Steeldrivers with fellow Dead Reckoning alum, Tammy Rogers King. In 2021 he won the CMA song of the year with co-writer Chris Stapleton. He had left the Steeldrivers at that point but he was still playing the Bluebird every Monday night. Every night for decades.
I hope his family feels the love that is everywhere for him. It is a tremendous loss.
These videos are in order of date I believe. It is truly worth going down this path.
RIP Mike Henderson.