Rock fans in Cleveland, Ohio, are finding out what happened to Michael Stanley, and we’re sharing the sad news here, too. The musician and radio personality died on Friday, March 5, with his family by his side, as announced today by his longtime workplace, the classic rock radio station 98.5 WNCX.
Meanwhile, David Spero, Michael’s best friend and former manager, told 3News that the musician died peacefully in his sleep Friday night. He was 72 years old.
What happened to Michael Stanley? His death came after a battle with lung cancer.
“Michael battled lung cancer for seven months with the same strength and dignity he carried throughout his life,” WNCX said in its announcement. “He will always be remembered as a loving father, brother, husband, a loyal friend, and the leader of one of Cleveland’s most successful rock bands.”
Only two days before Michael’s death, WNCX announced that the radio host had stepped away from his show, citing “serious health issues.” As Distractify previously reported, Michael hadn’t been on the air since Feb. 19.
“Michael Stanley is dealing with serious health issues that prevent him from joining you in his 3-7 p.m. time slot,” the station’s Facebook statement explained. “It has been important to him to be on air up until recently, because you, his fans, mean that much to him. As of right now he is unable to continue doing that. Please keep Michael in your thoughts …”
Michael had a long and storied career.
Not only did Michael host WNCX’s afternoon drive radio show for 31 years, he also performed heartland rock music, both as a solo artist and a member of bands like Silk and the Michael Stanley Band. In 1981, the Michael Stanley Band’s song “He Can’t Love You” peaked at No. 33 on the BillboardTop 40, and their track “My Town” reached No. 39 two years later, according to 3News.
In 2019, Michael received the Cleveland Arts Prize’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Barry Gabel, Live Nation’s senior vice president of marketing and sponsorship sales, called Michael “Northeast Ohio’s poet laureate” at the time.
“Indiana might have a [John] Mellencamp, Detroit might have a Bob Seger,” Barry added in an interview with Cleveland Magazine. “We have a Michael Stanley.”
Michael Stanley is survived by his wife, Ilsa Glanzberg, and his children and grandchildren.
Michael leaves behind his "new" wife of three years, Ilsa Glanzberg — the best friend of his late third wife, who died in 2011 after a battle with lung cancer — as well as his two daughters and five granddaughters, according to 3News.
According to WNCX, the singer-songwriter will be laid to rest in a private service, but fans can make contributions in his memory to the Cleveland Food Bank and/or the Cleveland Animal Protective League.
After announcing Michael’s death on Saturday, March 6, WNCX also posted a letter he penned before his death. “Well, if you’re reading this, then I am off to catch up with a big club tour in the sky,” Michael wrote in the note. “But before the bus pulls out, I wanted to thank all of you for being a part of my musical journey, both on the stage, on record, and behind the microphone here at WNCX.”