Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Michael Griffen from Behead the Prophet dies

Sadly, Michael Griffen, who played violin in hardcore band Behead the Prophet No Lord Shall Live and Olympia band Noggin passed away Monday, January 7th, 2008. His daughter Aral sent out an email the prior week giving people an update on her father's health, saying he wasn't doing to well. "My Dad has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and saw some doctors for the first time about it last spring. The disease is fairly advanced, and has progressed further since he first got diagnosed ... Due to his health, he stopped playing music a couple years ago." Apparently he collapsed a few weeks ago and was rushed to the hospital, and although had been released, he was having problems breathing and it seemed like his end was coming nearer. Aral's email went on to say she wanted to let everyone know about his health since his music had touched so many people.

Monday musician and old Radio Tower House resident Jordan Rain sent out the following email:

"Early this morning Michael Griffen died. He was the violinist in Behead the Prophet No Lord Shall Live and played in the noise duo Noggin and many other projects along the way. His contribution to music was very significant as huge proponent of Improvised Noise. Michael encouraged anyone curious about music regardless of talent and got a lot of people started on a path to true creative expression. I am greatly thankful for my experience with Michael as an individual, as a fellow musician and to know his family who have been a family to me when I needed a one that accepted me for who I am without judgement. I am currently working on a documentary about Michael with a friend Peter Rand that hopefully will be completed within the next year. Much Love to you all, I know that Michael believed in Love, - Jordan Rain"

I'll always remember Michael for being a fascinating somewhat odd man out in the punk scene that brought to our community new levels of diversity (age and strings!). The first time I saw him at a hardcore show at The Black Cat or Radio Tower House I wondered who was this 60-70 year old guy rocking out in the back corner to these abrasive bands? Then I saw him perform in Noggin at Yo-Yo A Go Go and later a bunch with BTPNLSL and saw that he was not only an uber-fan, but a crazy talented musician as well. I got into two or three long conversation with him at the old house in the U-District that Josh Plague (and I assume Michael) lived in near Cowen Park that sometimes hosted shows, but mostly he'd just smile alot, say hi, and seemed almost too shy or awkward to talk casually at shows. His contributions to the hardcore and noise seen will be remembered as unique and always pushing the envelope a lot farther than musicians half or even one third his age.

This photo sums up Michael in a lot of ways. Rocking the fuck out with a big grin on his face in the dank and dirty Goat House basement while 50 kids are jumping off the walls and smashing into each other with similar goofy grins.


Anonymous said...

So sad.

BTPNLSL's creativity, energy, and craziness was amazing...remember the area code show when WA rolled out the 360 area code, the flooded 100th show, all the shows they were supposed to play with Karp at the Goathouse when Karp didn't show up, Heaven vs. Hell at the OFH, their (last?) show in someone's 2nd floor apartment with Botch, where everything was green??? Anyway, they were obviously so creative and good and right-on and fun, but they were also the NICEST band ever, of course Michael included. So gracious and considerate...

I, too, have a similar recollections of him being pretty mellow and keeping to himself at shows but when you did talk to him he was so interesting...what other "punk rocker" would teach a bunch of pre-schoolers to rock out on the violin???

Dan 10Things said...

Yeah, I think we should celebrate his life and music. Nice to hear from you Ann, long time no see, how have you been?

Anonymous said...

michael's approach to making music and his approach to life/expression inspired me deeply. thank you michael!

Anonymous said...

we're gathering thoughts at


Unknown said...

Oh motherfucker,

I had no idea. I was just talking with someone about Behead the Prophet, did a google search and stumbled across your blog. I didn't know him, and only owned one BTPNLSL 7", and lost it to Katrina. Now I really really need it again.