Michael McCanless died on Feb. 1 2003 after a valiant fight with cancer. Michael was a wonderful human being who was extrordinarily talented yet very humble. Hailing from Okaloosa Iowa, the son of orchestra musicians Alton & Jeanne McCanless, Michael played the violin since he was 2 years old and was later nicknamed "Fiddleboy"
Here is a transcript of the email announcing the sad news:
There's just no easy way to tell you all this. My Dear Michael died yesterday Sat. Feb. 1st at 6:01PM. He passed peacefully at home with me, his sister Wendy and his best friend J.W. Allen at his side. He visited Brazil in his final days in hopes of getting a miraculous healing from the cancer he suffered so long with. He didn't get his wish but he did find peace and came to terms with his life and all the choices he made. My deepest thanks to all who prayed and donated so generously to Michael's treatment fund. I'm sorry this is so impersonal but Michael had so many friends and I don't know any other way to get the word out. I'm sure many have been left off this email list so please pass it along for me. Thank You
My personal reflection
I first met Michael on October 3, 2000 out behind Bogarts in Cincinnati. On the suggestion from a good friend, Henry Nye (HenryJ), my partner Sie Callebs (Elvis Hitler) and I went to tape a Hank Williams III concert. Neither of us knew what to expect, heard it was country and rock but didnt know much more than that. We arrived very early to get taper permission and sat outside the tour bus for awhile. EH went over to the store to get some beer for the wait and walked off. Shortly after he left this guy comes walking up and says "well you are here early, who are you" and I said "I guess I am the welcoming committee" and told him about being told to come tape this amazing act called Hank III. He introduced himself and said he was the fiddle player and we talked for awhile until EH came back with the beers and he visited some more. I found him to be very down to earth and an all over friendly guy. He said he had to get going but would get Randy who was the tour manager at the time to get us in with the club for taping.
I was simply blown away at the performance that night. I was at a point in my life where I gave up on current rock music, there was nothing exciting about music to me anymore until that night when I heard traditional country performed the way it should be. I saw the most amazing fiddle performance of my life, the entire band smoked but without a doubt, Michael had me blown away. I have been an avid taper for years and have recorded over 150 concerts before and never was I ever blown away by a band that I stopped recording, however by the 2nd song of my first Hank III concert I was floored and I put my camera down as I was mesmerized by the sights and sounds I was hearing. Those of you who have the Bogarts 10/2/00 video can see where there is no two camera mix during the second song, I was too busy picking my jaw up off the floor! I became an instant die hard fan immediately and went on to tape numerous shows. Each time we showed up at a gig Michael was there to greet us and make sure our taper needs were met. Every time we spoke he was kind, sincere and genuinely interested in the conversation. No ego, no attitude with him, just a remarkable man.
Later on the news came that he was diagnosed with testicular cancer but Michael faced it bravely and fought with every bit of energy he had and he had overwhelming support from the Hank III community. There were a few pictures in circulation of Hank III wearing a t shirt that read "FUCK CURB" on it. On the original "FUCK CANCER" thread at the Hank III board I suggested that some of the resident board artists and silkscreeners should create a "FUCK CANCER" t shirt and sell it with proceeds going to Michael. This idea was fufilled through the efforts of many people from the board and with donated time and materials a run of 200 shirts were made for sale. Overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from the III community, Michael and his girlfriend Mrs K held a Memorial Day BBQ at their home in Tennessee. A large gathering of friends from all over the country came to honor Michael and provide him some additional inspiration for his battle with cancer. A benefit concert was later staged in Austin Texas which featured a huge lineup of bands who donated their time to the cause and thrilled a sell out crowd. At this event the "FUCK CANCER - THE DVD" was released. This limited edition DVD featured a solo performance by Michael recorded by Joan Speer (Texas Raider) a photo slide of Fiddleboy pictures, a slideshow of the Memorial Day BBQ highlights and the infamous TV Casualty head shaving where Russ got quite a buzz from Michael. The DVD also liberated the tour documentary "IIIrd Generation Outlaw".
Overall, thousands of dollars were raised for what became known as "The Fiddleboy Fund" which helped Michael with his medical bills. I am sure the efforts were very much appreciated by Michael.
If you would like your own copy of "FUCK CANCER - THE DVD" please feel free to contact me through the Midwest EXP Productions link on this page. The DVD will be made available for a donation to the Fiddleboy Fund. Please contact John Waters (Finatic) for details.
My Favorite Things about Fiddleboy.
For more Information please visit:
Hank III Website and Message Board
Lance Armstrong Foundation Site
American Cancer Society Homepage
Enjoyable article about Michael playing with "The BordeCollies"
DOWNLOAD THE FIDDLEBOY PHOTO SHOW
Midwest EXP Productions website
The Original Fiddleboy Fuck Cancer Page, courtesy of www.tvcasualty.com
Michael's Obituary from his hometown newspaper, The Okaloosa Herald