was an American singer/songwriter/artist who lived from 1950-2006. Born in Springfield, Ohio, he is survived by his wife Julie and children Derek, Andrea, Natalie and Grant. His family has allowed Busted Records exclusive access to his music catalog.

MICHAEL SZEMPRUCH

Before the Pieces

1976

THE MUSIC IN MICHAEL SZEMPRUCH

By: Derek Szempruch

Michael Szempruch – “I’m a Roller”

“Trying something, to establish a day

Filling bottles, only to hide them away

Maybe tomorrow, is part of yesterday

But I hope I find someone else rolling my way”

Music was an important part of my father’s life. I remember first time he taught me how to use the record player and we began exploring the music of his generation. From the first moment the needle fell into the groove, I was hooked. He introduced me to artists like The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin and Neil Young, who are still some of my favorites to this day. This knowledge was passed on through the eyes and memories of someone who experienced it first-hand.

As anyone who ever spent more than five minutes with him would attest, Mike loved to tell stories. His car broke down on the way to Woodstock and he never made it. He was drafted in the Army during the Vietnam War and while in training in Fort Worth, TX, the soldier next to him on the firing range passed out from heat exhaustion and blew his foot off. The bullet narrowly missed my Dad, or so the story goes. He was in the heart of the protests during the Democratic Convention of 1968 and was hit with tear gas. He had a detailed plan to put Coca-Cola advertisements on the moon. The stories lasted 25 years of my life and never got old (ok that part is bullshit but now I actually miss the stories).

It wasn’t until Nirvana’s “Nevermind” was released in 1991 that I felt my generation had something musically to call it’s own. At 7 years old, I don’t know how much I actually understood of its impact on anyone other than me but I knew I was listening to something different. My Dad hated Kurt Cobain’s voice but I knew it was just a sign that I was experiencing something disruptive. Before that it was just the musical influence of my Dad. And as I have grown up, I still find myself pulling his records out of their sleeves and spinning them on my turntable.

I thought it was so cool that my Dad had a recording deal in the 1970’s. I still have the 7” LP with ‘I’m a Roller” and “Before the Pieces” as the B-Side. That was almost as good as him actually being a famous musician. And to me he was famous! As a child, I would run around the house singing “I’m a Roller” and I know he was happy that at least someone was listening to his tunes. Hopefully by releasing his music in 2015, more people will hear it too.

When he was diagnosed with cancer for the second time in 2004, he began writing and recording as much as possible. The disease may have been eating away at his body, but he never stopped creating. In addition to thousands of pages of original song lyrics and sheet music, he also passed on over 1,000 cassette tapes of his work. His 1966 Martin D12-20 guitar is my most prized possession and something I will pass on to my own kids someday. The music will never stop for Michael Szempruch.

John Lennon – “Watching The Wheels”

People say I’m crazy, doing what I’m doing
Well, they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin
When I say that I’m okay, well, they look at me kinda strange
“Surely, you’re not happy now, you no longer play the game”

People say I’m lazy, dreaming my life away
Well, they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me
When I tell them that I’m doing fine watching shadows on the wall
“Don’t you miss the big time, boy. You’re no longer on the ball”

I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

 

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