Michael Stanley, a Cleveland-based rocker who with his namesake band reached the Top 40 in the 1980s with the hits “He Can’t Love You” and “My Town” before going on to a long career as a radio disc jockey, has died at 72. Stanley died Thursday after a seven-month battle with lung cancer, his family said in a statement.
The rock radio station WNCX in Cleveland, where he worked for 30 years, posted a message from Stanley himself, saying: “Hey gang… Well, if you’re reading this then I am off to catch up with that big club tour in the sky. But before the bus pulls out I wanted to thank all of you for being part of my musical journey, both on the stage, on record, and behind the microphone here at WNCX.”
Accompanied by his signature, Stanley’s send-off continued: “Somebody once said that if you love your job then it’s not really work. And if that’s true (and I definitely think it is) then I have been happily out of work for over fifty years!” The Cleveland legend released his first album while still in college and formed the Michael Stanley Band in 1974.
After a brief period of national popularity in the early ’80s, sales fell off and the band broke up in 1987. Stanley, also a songwriter, continued to record and tour, and remained beloved in his hometown as a radio and television personality, performer and recording artist. “He was so emblematic of that raging heart that doesn’t care that it’s gonna lose — it’s still gonna leave everything on the field. And when he wrote those songs, those kids in a city where the river caught on fire and the lake died, they felt like their lives mattered,” music critic and author Holly Gleason told Cleveland.com.
“If you were a kid coming of age in Cleveland in the ’70s or the ’80s, he was our hand on the brass ring.” A private funeral for Stanley was planned.
Watch “He Can’t Love You” Below.