Traci Michaelz Funeral
Hollywood Forever Cemetery
By Victoria Joyce
This is so sad. We got the word last weekend. Saw a blog on MySpace. Traci Michaelz, the drummer for the Peppermint Creeps was found dead in his hotel room. They had just toured in Europe, played the Whisky and were doing some other dates. What? Disbelief is the first stage of grief.
Taking their influences from comic books and pinball machines as much as Kiss and the NY Dolls, the Peppermint Creeps wore outlandish costumes and did the makeup thing with an overall theme of green and purple. Lots of fun and real bitchin’ rock and roll. Tons of fans in Hollywood due in no small part to the outgoing and unstoppable Traci Michaelz.
One week later, on a one hundred degree day, several hundred rockers gathered to attend services at the beautiful Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The final resting place for many movie stars since before color and sound; Rudolf Valentino, Tyrone Power, Peter Lorre, Jayne Mansfield, etc. And several beloved rockers; Johnny and Dee Dee, Bianca from Betty Blowtorch. Such a cool place.
The small chapel was overflowing into the blinding sun. This is a crowd of people that already wear black all the time. A long line for viewing took over an hour and was gently halted for services to start. Stuck in the back we could hear but not see. Proceedings included a universal prayer of love, comfort and joy invoking all the names of God. Eastern Indian Yogi stuff about “going to be with my beloved in an ocean of ambrosia.” Comforting words. And of course, there was a video.
A few friends got up to speak and tell stories. Emotions ran from tears to giggles has we heard stories of little Traci being sent home from Kindergarten because he ripped off his tee shirt at recess playing Incredible Hulk and more stories of a rocker on the road who love to play music and celebrate life. Boxes of Kleenex passed around like reefers.
“It’s only fitting that Traci’s last gig should be standing room only” from band mate Billy Blade. This brought the house down. The line started up again. Mourners were asked to bring band stickers for the coffin. And Traci was buried in full makeup. So Rock and Roll.
Very weird that this came down the same week as the passing of Tim Russert. It was the same deal for Traci Michaelz. Here was another beloved man who was doing what he loved. A genuinely happy dude while the rest of are lazy and dumb and complain. Traci too was a guy who was enthusiastic about life and who reached out to anyone and all. And they played that same cover of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on the ukulele by the big Hawaiian guy like the did for the Russert services in Washington. We are all one, brother and sisters. Or at least, we should be.
“It didn’t matter if you knew him two weeks or ten years,” so said Freekshow after the services, looking for a match. Some of us still smoke. Teary eyed and hugging like crazy, people made plans to meet at The Rainbow. They loved him there.
We ended up at the Viper Room later in the evening and caught Semi Precious Weapons (who are nothing but outrageous and great) and the Ringers (who get better with every performance) and ran into a friend. Asking him if he attended Traci Michaelz’s services earlier he answered, “No, but I went to the after party.” So L.A.
Rock and Roll Heaven got another drummer. Well, they must have needed one.