Few people expect to prosper, let alone thrive, in the music business once they hit their mid-40’s, but that’s what happened with Burlington small businessman and Walk Off The Earth multi-instrumentalist Mike “Beard Guy” Taylor.
Born in 1967, Mike Taylor passed away in his sleep at age 51, just before New Years Eve. He leaves his ex-wife, Amy, and their two teenaged children, Mylie, 16, and 14- year-old son Jackson.
Raised in a musical home, Taylor played keyboards, accordion, and other instruments (including that famous guitar from the Youtube video). He played in bar bands for years before getting together with Walk Off the Earth in 2011. He also sang with the group, and he posted a video singing “O Holy Night” days before his passing.
Taylor also ran a successful business in Burlington, employing some 25 full time staff at his international shipping company, Gateway Freight Systems. Adding hockey and the gym to the mix, Taylor led a busy, active life, making his sudden death from natural causes all the more surprising to those who knew him.
Walk Off the Earth, assembled in Burlington in 2006, were already known for their catchy and quirky covers of pop songs and other hits. The band has posted covers online of “Gangnam Style,” acoustically, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and many other eclectic choices over the last decade and a half.
In 2012, a Youtube post featuring all five members of the band playing the same guitar went viral. “Somebody That I Used To Know” has been viewed some 186 million times on the band’s channel, with millions more views on additional uploads of their cover. Suddenly, the band “Beard Guy” joined went from viral to award-winning.Walk Off the Earth won a Juno award in 2016 for Group of the Year, after several years of nominations. They have released a half dozen albums and other releases since their New Years Eve 2007 recorded debut, “Smooth Like Stone On A Beach.” A planned New Years Eve 2018 – 2019 CBC TV appearance from Niagara Falls was cancelled following the December 30 announcement of Mike Taylor’s passing. On January 7, the band played a memorial concert for “Beard Guy” in Burlington.
Walk Off The Earth also took to Social Media to honour their friend and band mate. Gianni Luminati posted on Instagram
- “TayTay…I’m not ready for you to leave us brother! I know we had so many more restaurants to hit, so many more golf rounds to suck at(me) and so many more late night bus convos about life and love. I learned so much from you and you were always the first person I called when I needed advice in life or business. You were an amazing Father to your kids and I strived to implement that with my own boys. I hope you know how many lives you touched in a positive way. I’m so thankful I had the chance to live out our dreams together traveling around the world. The memories we created will stay with me till the day we meet again. I love you buddy. Long Live The Beard!”
Mike Taylor will be missed by the whole music community.
(photo from www.globalnews.ca)