Condolence & Memory Journal

When I first came across this obituary for Mike a couple of years ago, I was saddened and disappointed to learn of his passing and to know that I wouldn't be able to let him know how much his contributions to those early JD albums have meant to me over the years. His guitar work (and songwriting), along with John's voice and lyrics on each of those four albums still touches something deep inside every time I listen to them. They are wonderful! I always wished that Mike had stuck around and done more work with John, but I'm glad to learn that he was just as passionate about his archaeological preservation work that came afterwards.

As a teenager growing up in south Arkansas during the early to mid-70's I would religiously listen to those albums on hot, humid summer days while dreaming of being somewhere in the Colorado Rockies, which I had fallen in love with on family vacations. The music transported me there and lifted my spirit.

When I look at the inside photo on the Rocky Mountain High album that shows Mike with Kris, Dick and John, it always tends to bring a smile to my face, just as the music on that album brings me such joy. Last summer my wife and I were listening to Rocky Mountain High as we traveled from one part of the Colorado mountains to another during a week long camping trip. At one point my wife Kathy was in tears. She said that after all these years that music still impacts her so powerfully. Same with me. Thank you Mike for your wonderful gift, and may God bless your family. - Rob Parham, Colorado Springs

Posted by Rob Parham - Colorado Springs, CO - Friend   March 31, 2017

Mike and I woked together on Daufuskie Island in 83. We were dig partners and moved alot of dirt. Had many good conversations with him. A few days after I started we were all eating lunch and a colleague asked me what I thought of John Denver. I said that was a long time ago and I wasnt into his music except for the Rocky Mountain High song. Everyone laughed and said, well Mike wrote that song. I didnt believe them and went back to work. Mike spent the rest of the day trying to convince me. I believed him in the end because he told me a few Band Road Trip/Party stories that were too funny (and wild)! He was a normal guy, nice. and a very hard worker. I found an old photo of us and thought about him. Sorry that this great guy isn't here anymore. Regards to the family. T

Posted by Terry Roggow - Berlin, Germany - Friend/Digging partner   October 05, 2014

I loved Mike's guitar playing especially on Take Me Home Country Roads. He will be missed.

Posted by Joe Kelly - Rockford, MI   July 14, 2013

Candle

Michael was an amazing musician, he shaped the music of my youth and I must say, I was thrilled to find his passion for history. God bless you Mr Taylor, you left this world a better place for haing had you in it.

Posted by Andrew Gates - Apple Valley, CA - Fan and Friend   January 26, 2012

Growing up I had pored over Mike's guitar parts with my friends for years. We'd examined every chord inversion, every line, everything he had done with John Denver on those now classic records. At one point, as teenagers we had written him a letter asking all kinds of silly technical questions about his recordings with JD. Of course we sent it to some record company address and never heard anything back. We even found out he had played with the great Odettaa nd Joni Mitchell and that he was part of the "Cellar Door" crowd in D.C.

Years later, in 2005, I contacted Mike through Kris O'Connor about playing on my record. Mike was gracious, warm and very open. We talked several times and each time he was amazed by the stories I told him about how all of us guitar players had studied what he did in utter amazement. I told him how we thought he was one of the most important guitarists in popular music. He was amazed because he thought nobody knew or cared. I feel lucky to have told him how important he was to so many of us and that his genius on the guitar did not go unnoticed. How sad I am to learn of his passing a year on. Rest in Peace, Mike. And thank you for transforming the lives of a bunch of teenagers who thought you were a guitar god and spent hours upon hours listening to your playing instead of getting into trouble!

I feel - as many of us do - that his playing was a considerable factor in John Denver's success. Who can imagine those early songs without those signature licks?

What a talent. Nobody - ever - will play like Mike Taylor. My heartfelt best wishes to his family.

Posted by Marc Corey Lee - Rancho Santa margarita, CA - Fellow musician   December 25, 2011

Oh my... I had lost track of Mike, now I know why. I became such a fan of John Denver when I was young. My first album was "Rocky Mountain High". I played it over and over. I suffered from panic attacks and I would listen to "Late Winter , Early Spring", it would calm me down. I also played the guitar at that time. Of course, my favorite songs to play were John's. I loved to play "Eagle and the Hawk" and people would tell I was pretty good! I wanted so badly to learn Late Winter Early Spring but could never quite master it. It is such a beautiful piece of music. I have searched for Mike online several times. but could never really find anything. I wanted find more of his music if he ever had any solo work. I kept in touch with Dick Kniss and John for several years. I was fortunate to see all of them in concert several times. My first JD concert was at Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino, CA in 1972. I remember Steve Weisburg and Bill and Taffy, oh what memories! I truly miss those days and all of them. Rest in peace dear Mike, I know its been a nearly a year since you've been gone but the thoughts, prayers and memories are still fresh. I hope you and John are having an eternal jam session! Peace to your family and friends that continue on.

Posted by Jennifer - Inyokern, CA - Fan   August 08, 2011

Candle

Rest In Peace
Gone but not forgotten
Gerry Keoghan
(IRELAND)

Posted by Gerry Keoghan - fan   May 27, 2011

Mr. Taylor wrote a very nice comment on my daughter's youtube performance of Eagle and the Hawk. i just looked him up on google and found this page. i am sorry that he passed so young, but he lives forever through his music. Thank you Mike, the actions of your life has enriched the quality of ours!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7FrX3gRSq0

Posted by james burns - ensenada, CA - fan   April 06, 2011

Thank you for your peace and love of music.

Posted by Anthony Valentino III - Merritt Island, FL - intrest work   November 20, 2010

Candle

Your music, spirit and smile will be missed by all. Sincere condolences to his family and friends.

Posted by Donna Dongre - fan   October 14, 2010

I met Mike when he appeared with John for a week in Lake Tahoe. We managed to get Mike in trouble with John less than 24 hours after arriving. He was good natured, unassuming and very quiet but his smile lit up the room. It was a fun week, good music, good freinds, good memories. My condolences to his family and friends. A star had fallen from the South Carolina sky this week and we are all dimished for the loss.

Posted by connie poquette - merced, CA - fan   September 12, 2010

Candle

I only got to see Mike Taylor perform once - in Seattle, in 1972, with John Denver and Dick Kniss. My best friend Teri and I practiced the opening to "Poems, Prayers and Promises" on our guitars until our fingers bled. I remember Mike and his music very fondly. Rest in peace, Mike. And my heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends.

Posted by Debra Sanderson - music fan   September 10, 2010

Anyone who is a fan of John Denver knows of the song pages created by Linda Ettel. She has created some of the most beautiful memories of John and his music that we will ever see. None more touching, however, than the one she made for me with photos of my granddaughter with Sunshine On My Shoulders playing in the background. The first time I saw the finished product, I wept.
Thank you Mike and John for the fond memories.

Posted by Tom Fleetwood - Mesa (Phoenix), AZ - fan   September 10, 2010

The first time I heard John Denver sing it had a major impact on me. I was 15 and had been writing music for 3 years. I was in a drug store in Bloomington, Indiana and heard a song that caused the tears to well up in my eyes and my heart to race. Here finally, was a musician singing the same type of songs I wrote. 15 year old boys "don't cry", but that day I felt overwhelmed by a song so simplistic, yet so profound...that song was Sunshine On my Shoulders.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Mike and John for sharing their gift with me and I work hard to repay that debt every time I go on stage. This weekend, when I perform, that song will be dedicated to Mike.

God bless you, we share in your loss.

Gill Miller
Sweet Surrender [band]
P.O. Box 2211
Richmond, IN 47375

Posted by Gill Miller - Richmond, IN - music fan and performer   September 10, 2010

Wise beyond his years. Pointing me in the right direction rather I went or not he never held judgement. My other Big brother. Loved him dearly and he will be missed by all my family. Mike you were like no other. Your life energy will always be with me and forever in my memories. You and Keith go play music together again. Love you!

Posted by Lore Lane - Fayetteville, NC - Like part of the Lane family.   September 09, 2010

I'd just moved to Aspen in late 1972 when I met Mike, who was John Denver's guitarist. He was so talented, outgoing and warm. We began jamming together, almost every day he was off tour. There was another singer/songwriter named Keith, and the 3 of us probably played together 50 times. I wish I'd taped those sessions. Mike had his own style; he played like nobody else. Despite his talent, he was humble: not until reading his obituary did I ever know he'd also played with Joni Mitchell. He'd never mentioned it.
I'm so glad to have known Mike, to have shared that magical bond of music with him, and to be able to hear his artistry whenever I play an old JD album.

Posted by Steve Weisberg - Palmer, TX - old friend   September 08, 2010

Oh, Michael, the years Bill and I toured with you and John and Dick are some of the strongest of my good memories. You ALWAYS made me laugh. Shy, subtle, smart and smart-ass. You always had a comment and a sweet smile.

Mary Kay, my heart is sad for you and I can only hope you find some solace in knowing how many of us love and miss you and think of you now and often.

Taffy

Posted by Taffy Nivert Danoff - Washington, DC - friend   September 08, 2010

Candle

May peace and comfort be with the family at this time.

Posted by Brian Taylor - Friend   September 08, 2010

I will sadly miss one of the most talented and humble men that I have ever made acquaintance with.

However, I carry very fond memories of our brief friendship and remember the light that his life was.

Thank you, Michael, for the gift of you.

Posted by Brian Taylor - Novi, MI - Friend   September 08, 2010