Last Dog & Pony Show - Biography of Michael

Michael Cerveris - Guitar

Michael Cerveris grew up in Huntington, West Virginia. The first 45 he bought was The Bertha Butt Boogie-Part 1 by the Jimmy Castor Bunch. His first concert was The Carpenters--which he attended because his best friend’s parents took them, and because it seemed cool that a girl was playing drums. It being West Virginia, his other formative concert experience was Kiss, Rush and Mott (Mott the Hoople without Ian Hunter) at the Memorial Field House.

Soon after, he started his first band in Junior High. Named Ukiah, they were notable more for volume and enthusiasm than actual talent—a tendency that some believe persists to this day. At the same time, Cerveris was acting in school plays, community theater and summer theaters. An appreciation for Deep Purple, and in particular their singer Ian Gillan, led to his buying the original recording of Jesus Christ Superstar. Thus began a long parallel road into musical theater; one that would ultimately lead to his working with Bob.

After High School in Huntington and at Exeter, followed by college in New Haven (and not actually at New Haven University), Michael moved to New York to pursue acting. He worked in restaurants, shops and, occasionally, theaters. His musical life lay dormant until he was hired to play an English guitar student on the TV series Fame.

He moved to Los Angeles for the show and, it being LA, discovered that since he played a musician on TV, he was now welcome into the music scene. He put a few pick-up bands together and sat in with a version of Kommunity FK…once. He was, this being late 80’s LA, a bit Goth and had big hair. Neither of these things is true today.

Years passed, mostly filled with acting work: on stage as Romeo opposite Phoebe Cates in Chicago, with Tom Hulce in Eastern Standard in Seattle, and doing Shakespeare all over the country; on TV in The Equalizer, 21 Jump Street, The Tracey Ullman Show, Quantum Leap, and Dream On; and in movies like Rock and Roll High School Forever, and Steel And Lace that show up late at night on the USA Network.

Eventually, his rock and acting worlds collided when he auditioned and was cast as the title role in the stage version of The Who’s Tommy, first in La Jolla, CA, then on Broadway. In the course of that show, he became friends with Pete Townshend, eventually playing unannounced gigs in NY and joining him on stage at the Beacon in New York, in Oakland and in San Diego to sing a medley of Tommy songs during Townshend’s Psychoderelict Tour.

Cerveris then formed the band LAME in New York and played around Manhattan including gigs at the Wetlands, the China Club and a regular acoustic slot at Sin E. Eventually, he took Tommy to Germany and lived there for two years performing in Offenbach just outside Frankfurt. He started a German version of LAME with local musicians and played clubs and festivals in the Frankfurt area as well as a support slot for Lloyd Cole.

Returning to New York, Michael continued his schizophrenic career by originating the role of Thomas Andrews in the Broadway musical Titanic, and then playing a transsexual East German glam rock singer in Hedwig And The Angry Inch off Broadway.

Michael and Bob first met when Michael brought Pete Townshend to see Bob play a solo show at the old Academy in NY. This being rock and roll, word got backstage that Pete was there, and they were invited to the dressing room and introduced. A few years and a few solo Bob shows later, Bob offered Michael the slot in the Dog and Pony Band which he jumped at (in a kind of quiet way, this being Michael).

Bob joined LAME on stage at the Wetlands for a cover of Mission of Burma’s That’s When I reach For My Revolver, and their musical collaboration began. The rest is some sort of history waiting to be written, probably involving a lot of Denny’s, Motel 6’s, miles of freeway driving and, oh yes………………volume.