R.I.P., Mike Herrera: Veteran Denver Musician, Friend to Many

The Denver music family is shocked, confused and saddened by the recent passing of Mike “Mikey” Herrera — a veteran Denver musician who fronted numerous bands throughout the years, including One Dying Wish, the Blackout Pact, Sleeper Horse and Tin Horn Prayer (which he and I were in together).

Mikey passed away in his sleep earlier this week. He was 33 years old.

Those of us who were close to him are left trying to make sense of this heartbreaking loss and wondering what we could have done to prevent it from happening. Unfortunately, the litany of questions circling in our minds will be left unanswered. Our only chance for healing is to share our memories of Mikey and fondly listen to the music he helped create over the years.

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Mikey’s personal battles were, unfortunately, well documented, and they were fodder for many of the songs that Tin Horn Prayer wrote. We sang of addictions and struggles — not to glamorize them, but to address them and to help ourselves and others cope with them. As someone who was close to Mikey, I was sad to see his demons get the better of him at times, because I knew that they were masking a truly kind and gentle person. He was the kind of guy who would always seek out and befriend the underdog. He cared deeply about those around him, and if he ever said or did something wrong, he would always follow up with a heartfelt and sincere apology. It was tough to stay mad at him.

Since the news of his passing, countless friends and musicians with whom he shared the stage have been posting their memories on his Facebook page. Whether it's pictures from his many shows around the country, a Bukowski or Tom Waits quote, or a musing from TV's Tim and Eric Awesome Show (the kid had a crazy sense of humor), it's clear that there are a lot of people out there who knew the many sides of “Small Brown Mike” and will always remember his lust for life, his insane musical talent and his unique personality.

In February this year, Tin Horn Prayer said goodbye to our original drummer, Camden Trendler, and played a benefit show to help support his family. The idea for the show was Mikey’s, as he wanted to find a way to say goodbye to his fallen brother and ensure that Camden's legacy was remembered. Mikey was there, comforting Camden’s family, collecting donation money and playing flawlessly. These gestures were something that he did to honor the memory of a life gone too soon. As we deal with his own tragic ending, it's now up to us to find ways to honor him and keep him in our hearts. Please tell your family, friends and bandmates that you love them, continue to create music, and live the life you truly want to live: Make Mikey proud.

Mikey, I am deeply saddened that we will never play a show together again, but I'm happy that you are at peace.

See ya on the low side of the road.

We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us. — Charles Bukowski  

Editor's note: You can contribute to the cost of Herrera's funeral services via Gofundme.

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