Tuesday, March 04, 2008

R.I.P. Mike Conley of M.I.A.

Alternative Tentacles released an M.I.A. Anthology a while back. You can buy it HERE. I uploaded 4 of my favorite songs HERE

The memorial fund has been set up for Mike's daughters and we are getting the link set up for PayPal so people can donate that way if they wish. For the moment, if you want to help, here is the info:

Mike Conley Family Memorial Fund,

c/o Orange County Teachers Federal Credit Union

P.O. Box 11547, Santa Ana, CA 92711

Our very dear friend Mike Conley (owner of the Avalon Bar) died yesterday in
Chicago. (Most of you knew him) Of course his family.... Shelly and his
three daughters are devastated.

There will be an event on Sunday night at the Avalon Bar in Costa Mesa at
5:30 pm to help raise money for his family. We would really appreciate it if
you all could attend to pay your condolences. They are really having a tough
time and need all the help, love and support they can get. There will be
food and lots of friends.

Please come and tell everyone that knew him.

Thanks for the thread below to: Rob Ruckus

1959 — 2008:
Mike mastered OC punk

By Brianna Bailey and Josh Aden
Updated: Friday, February 29, 2008 11:17 PM PST

As the frontman for the Orange County hardcore punk band MIA, Michael Conley raged against war, racism and the isolation of modern life on stage alongside other legendary acts in the 1980s like the Dead Kennedys and Social Distortion.

“Life’s a mess, you gotta face it, if you’re not a millionaire it’s hard to make it, I’m a mess, that’s for sure,” Conley sang in one song.

More recently, Conley became a champion for revitalizing the economy in Westside Costa Mesa as the owner of The Avalon Bar, 820 19th St., a popular venue for Orange County DJs.

“We used to kid he was the mayor of Costa Mesa because everyone knew him,” said Jeff “Meatball” Tulinius, a longtime friend of Conley’s. “He was a popular guy — everyone knew Mike Conley.”

Conley, a father of three, died in suburban Chicago Thursday after he was found suffering a major head wound in a motel parking lot near O’Hare International Airport. Cook County Sheriff’s deputies are investigating. Investigators are waiting for the results of toxicology tests after an autopsy was done. He was 48 years old.

A longtime local resident, Conley was known for his efforts to bring music and art to Westside Costa Mesa.

“He was a pioneer,” said Brett Walker, owner of eVocal, a boutique and art space near The Avalon Bar.

Conley was Walker’s landlord and helped him get eVocal off the ground, he said.

“He was one of the few people on the Westside to bring in businesses and help make change in this area,” Walker said. “He was an artist himself who understood the importance of arts and culture.”

As a bar owner, Conley strove to make The Avalon Bar a hip enclave for people in the know. With no sign to attract customers, the establishment relied on word-of-mouth advertising. Conley was skilled at working with wood and restored all the wood cabinetry in the bar himself, Tulinius said.

“It was like something you would find in New York — very dark-low-lighting-cozy atmosphere,” Walker said. “Once people made The Avalon their home, that’s where they would go. He really wanted it to be a special place for people who understood what he was doing.”

Former MIA guitar player Nick Adams said Conley had a knack for drawing people to him.

“Mike was really a very charismatic guy,” Adams said. “He had an energy about him that I think attracted people.”

The band formed out of the ashes of the Las Vegas punk band the Swell after members Adams and Conley both moved to California, according to their official biography from Alternative Tentacles, the band’s record label. MIA played parties and at the seminal Costa Mesa punk venue the Cuckoo’s Nest in the early 1980s.

After breaking up and eventually reforming and short tours through the Southwest, MIA landed a record deal with Alternative Tentacles and toured America and Canada in 1984.

The band broke up in 1985, but reformed again in 1986. Alternative Tentacles released a compilation of the band’s studio and live recordings over the years in 2001 titled “Lost Boys.”

Conley made friends everywhere he went, Adams said. Wherever the show, Conley would be surrounded by a crowd.

Conley’s new friends would often end up tagging along with the band for a few stops on tour — which generally consisted of four punk rockers rolling across the United States in a van full of equipment.

Barking out the lyrics to songs like “I Hate Hippies” over buzz-saw guitar parts, Conley was a charismatic frontman, Adams said.

“He was very energetic on stage, he had a lot of drive. He had a vision for the band that was very creative,” Adams said. “It was a time when there was kind of a rebellion against the regular music industry so it was exciting to make your own records and put together your own tours.”

Former Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra remembers the first time he saw MIA, in Las Vegas in 1983.

“The venue was two used storage spaces that some punks had knocked the middle wall out of and turned into a secret illegal nightclub,” Biafra said. “You can’t get more punk rock than that that, and that is where I first saw MIA.”

Biafra offered to sign Conley and MIA to his Alternative Tentacles label that night. Biafra said Conley’s distinctive voice was one of the factors that made the band stick out.

“The minute you hear a song with him singing you know it’s him. It’s the best possible thing a singer can have — even if he has a range of one note, but Mike had a range of many more than one note,” Biafra said.

Mike Watt, bass player of fellow ’80s punk group the Minutemen, also spoke of Conley’s distinct vocals.

“I could tell it was them right away because of his singing,” Watt said via e-mail. “Very distinctive.”

Biafra said MIA mastered the Southern California hardcore sound of the early ’80s. He said the conservatism of Orange County influenced many of the area punk bands like MIA, TSOL and DI.

“That is partly what made the hardcore that came out of Orange County so hardcore — they were so repressed.”

The news of Conley’s death saddened Biafra, who noted he is among many in the hardcore community who died too young.

Conley is survived by longtime girlfriend Shelly “Syd” Leonard and his three daughters: Alex, 18, a freshman and Division 1 soccer player at La Salle University; Zoe, 9, and Ava, 5.


Friends and family of Mike Conley have set up the Mike Conley Family Memorial Fund to help put his three daughters through college. To donate, send checks to the Mike Conley Family Memorial Fund, care of Orange County Teachers Federal Credit Union, P.O. Box 11547, Santa Ana, 92711. For more information, call The Avalon Bar at (949) 515-4650


Saturday, March 01, 2008

Mike Conley 1959-2008
Category: Friends

First of all I just want to say thank you for all the love and support shown by Mike's many friends over the last two days. The outpouring has truly been amazing, and having been with his family virtually non-stop since getting the news, I can tell you all that Sid and the girls, along with all of us who were close to Mike very much appreciate everything.

We know now that Mike was not murdered, but died as a result of a tragic and freak accident. This is the official word given to the immediate family by the authorities. It doesn't change anything, but we are all somewhat heartened to know that the early rumors, which led us all to imagine the worst, were not accurate and that hopefully he did not suffer.

It has been a crazy last two days and we have been doing so much. The memorial fund has been set up for Mike's daughters and we are getting the link set up for PayPal so people can donate that way if they wish. For the moment, if you want to help, here is the info:

Mike Conley Family Memorial Fund,

c/o Orange County Teachers Federal Credit Union

P.O. Box 11547, Santa Ana, CA 92711

We are also working on a website for information and links to various things - the foremost of which will be a future benefit show with proceeds going to the memorial fund for Mike's daughters. This is of course in the early stages, but many bands are already expressing a desire to participate, and some are already collecting donations at their shows this weekend. Thanks to Midlife Chrysler, Love Canal, The Briefs and others already starting to do that on their own. What we are talking about is something big, down the road a few months from now that will be well-planned and as big as we can make it. The website will be a place to obtain news and info as it is developed, as well as a way for bands and individuals who may want to help or participate to contact us and leave their info. Stay tuned here for more info.

It is late and I have not slept in two days so I must go to bed now, but wanted to get some info out there as I was on the phone all day with everybody and still could not begin to say I have reached everyone I need to or that Mike would have wanted. I will continue to update here and the website when we get it up.

One last thought for now - as with anything like this, there will be a lot of rumors and theories going around, there is already a lot of stuff out there in cyberspace and the print media, some accurate, some not. It doesn't matter - I can tell you until I'm blue in the face as I have been in direct contact with Mike's immediate family who are the only people the authorities are releasing any information to - what matters is that Mike was one of the best friends anyone could ever have, an incredible human being, wonderful father and partner who loved Shelly and his three daughters more than anything, a true legend and a man with a heart of gold who affected anybody who knew him. We are grateful to know his last moments were not, as first feared, being victim of a horrible crime and suffering or scared, or worse. Here's a link to a good article going in the Daily Pilot tomorrow:


They got it right folks. Even though I go back almost 30 years with Mike and for all the years we lived together and all we went through, it should not surprise me but I am and continue to be simply amazed at the magnitude of the response and how many people Mike touched and affected, the phone calls and nice things everyone is saying and doing. For my part it's been just about the toughest and hardest thing I could ever imagine, an emotionally draining last two days but it is a labor of love, Mike meant so much to me, as with all of us and it's a labor of love for sure, I know he would have done the same for my family.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scotty...you are a good man and very good friend. You have been an indirect source of inspirational strength to many of us as we cope with this loss. Everywhere I turn, I see your words and it is a good thing. Brotherly love...tight.
Robin - LV

March 16, 2008 9:24 PM  
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