I’m sure, like me, most of Portland’s music fans were shocked to learn of Mike Thrasher’s death on Monday, March 2, 2020. I have not seen an official cause of death; just speculation. What I am hearing is that it was peaceful and with family. Truthfully, the cause of death is none of our business, but I know human nature drives us to want to know. That desire to know really pales in comparison to the fact that he isn’t with us anymore. I’m so happy to be part of this community that has come together to grieve and to celebrate a man who brought so much to so many of us. I hadn’t officially met Mike Thrasher; he and I were Facebook friends and corresponded on business, but I didn’t actually know him. It seems like we all “knew” him, but few really did. He was, in many ways, like the man behind the curtain…like the mastermind behind the scenes that didn’t want the limelight or need accolades — and I think that’s pretty cool.
Seeing the words of love and remembrance that dominate my Facebook feed, I really wish I had known him. Of course, with someone of his involvement in the scene, there are a few critics over small things, but their sentiments pale in comparison to the love and adoration the mass majority feels for him.
All indications point to the fact that Mike had prepared for this. As reported in the Portland Mercury, “Representatives from the Thrasher Presents team say it was Mike’s intention to flourish, and the team had some time to arrange for the transition. Gordon P. Cross will continue in his role as CEO/CFO of Thrasher Presents, as he has for the last five years, and Sean Major will continue as talent buyer. The Thrasher Presents team is poised to continue promoting shows well into the future.” Phew, thank God or the Universe or the Ancients, because the Hawthorne Theatre feels like my home, its staff, my friends, and its heart…the music that I love.
Mike Thrasher is the one who first gave MIRP a chance and a home, and we are forever grateful.
Celebrating Mike’s life through reading the comments on his page has been a tearful, yet joyful time for me. Tearful because we lost someone so important to our scene and joyful in experiencing our music scene come together to grieve and share sentiments for a man with respect and love.
Mike gave so many a taste of their dreams, and certainly gave all of us life-long experiences with our favorite metal bands from around the world. I hope he was aware of how we all felt about him.
Mike’s passing has left an immense hole in our hearts and in the Pacific Northwest Music Scene.
Below is the company’s official statement. Below that is the Portland Music Scene’s contribution to this article. I’ll keep adding them as they come in.
Official Company Statement (courtesy of Willamette Week)
The world is a less colorful place today after the passing of concert promoter Mike Thrasher.
For over 25 years Mike’s name has been synonymous with the music scene in the Pacific Northwest, and his presence will be sorely missed. Always a musician, Mike recognized early on that although he might not be destined for a life on stage himself, maybe he could help realize that dream for others. He quickly found his place organizing great shows and supporting the local scene around Portland and the Pacific Northwest. Founded in 1994, Mike Thrasher Presents would serve as the vehicle to cement Mike’s legacy.
In 2005 he began his involvement with the Hawthorne Theatre which continued to the time of his death. He loved putting on all-ages shows and exposing young audiences to a variety of musical genres in a safe atmosphere. His passion for watching bands grow from playing small clubs to larger and larger venues led Mike Thrasher Presents to produce shows at some of the area’s largest venues.
His legacy will live on with the continued operation of Mike Thrasher Presents and the Hawthorne Theatre. His well-established team will be moving ahead promoting shows in Portland and throughout the NW long into the future. In life, Mike was very connected with the work of the Portland Rescue Mission and asked that in lieu of flowers that donations be made in his name to them. Mike may be gone but will never be forgotten by his family, friends, and employees.
Karl Whinnery (Vintersea/Ligature Marks)
One of my first memories of Mike was a toga party at his house. I didn’t know anyone but I bonded quickly by helping throw someone out. We had so much fun. Mike allowed me to open for my dream bands – Machine Head, In Flames, Gojira, and so many more. Mike was such a generous friend and had the biggest heart. He loved to see everyone else happy. He kept a humble profile and flew under the radar. My wife and I loved randomly running into him at places like the Shanghai eating Mac & Cheese (it’s the best). He’ll be missed but never forgotten. He helped make Portland such an amazing city.
William Bohn (Metal Fan)
I’ve been going to metal shows presented by Mike Thrasher in Portland ever since I moved to Eugene from California ten years ago. I loved how he was able to book many of my favorite European artists at the Hawthorne Theatre such as Ensiferum, Wintersun, Alestorm, Dark Tranquility, and Insomnium. I would not be the dedicated concert-goer I am now if it weren’t for Mike. He will be missed and I hope we are able to carry on his legacy.
Mike Thrasher is, and always will be a namesake to the local music community. I am so grateful that I got a chance to work with him over the years. Mike opened opportunities for me to play shows in my old band SSD, with some of my all-time idols, growing up. Thank you for everything, Mike Thrasher. You will be greatly missed.
Gerrit Swearingen (Metal Fan)
I have so many friends in the local scene. When they all mourn and bond together to say the glowing things they say about Mike Thrasher you know how many lives he must have touched on a musical and opportunistic level. For me, a man I don’t know personally, he created a huge and vast opportunity for me to see, discover and enjoy so much music in my home P town. His email alerts were the highlight of my day! RIP.
Tim and Diane Leber
Mike, you will be missed by so many. Thank you for everything you have done for us. You will always be remembered.
Tim Roberts (American Roulette)
will be forever grateful for the opportunities Mike gave me and my fellow bandmates. His influence on the Portland music scene will be hard to top! I have so many amazing memories with friends & family because of the doors he opened for my band. Thanks again, Mike. Rest In Peace.
Matt Stanturf (Lidless Eye/Shanoa/Pitch Black Mass)
Mike thanks for the many years of helping bands live there dreams, and bringing national acts from around the globe for us Oregonians to get to see, I wanna thank you for everything you did in the music scene, thank you again you will be missed, RIP bro.
Kevin Pettigrew (Photographer)
Thrasher Presents has always been my go-to for shows ever since I was a kid. They always and continue to bring the best metal bands to Portland. It is a heavy blow to the music community in Portland and he will be missed.
Billy Serocki (Von Doom)
I, much like so many other aspiring musicians growing up in the Pacific Northwest, attended countless Mike Thrasher Presents shows featuring so many of my musical influences and heroes. It was also through Mike and his awesome organization that my band was able to take part in shows that would go down as some of our most cherished memories to date. There are truly no words that can describe how grateful I am to Mike Thrasher for his drive, ambition, and vision, that would ultimately have such a profound impact on not only me but our humble little corner of the Rock/Metal world. May your memory and legacy live on for countless years to come, Mike. Rest in power.
Tony Mata (Pitch Black Mass)
Around 2011 I was a thrash metal band called TETRAMORPIC out of Salem Oregon. Mike gave us our first opening gig and to me, it was like the biggest moment of my local music career. I had the honor to play his historic Hawthorne Theater venue 11 other times after that, with CRY HAVOK and CHAINBOUND. I know that every time I played there, I felt like a true Rock Star! Thank you, Mike Thrasher, for all you have done for us musicians in PDX! RIP N.W Legend!
Brandon Sills (Brandon Sills Project)
I was not entirely familiar with Mike Thrasher except that he was the go-to guy for booking and promoting shows in town. I had done a show in 2008 and I believe he was there. Personally, I didn’t really fit the bill I feel, however, he had left a review online somewhere that came across as negative but was meant to encourage growth, effort, and hustle. I know now that he meant well with the criticism he offered.
He has done a lot for many of my friends and peers in this city, and he helped build the music scene I’ve been glad to be a part of as an attendee and as a performer. My condolences to his family and the innumerable amount of friends he’s made in his lifetime in the music scene, local, national and international. Nobody could do what he did, nobody could replace him the same way. He truly did more in his life than most hope to achieve, and from what I know, he lived it and breathed it every waking minute. It was his element. He was damn good at it. RIP Mike Thrasher. I wish I could have known you more, with the high praises sung by those we mutually knew.
Because of Mike Thrasher, we (Apophis Theory) would never have been able to break into the scene. Portland’s a tough market for music… very cliquey. Mike broke those barriers down for lots of local musicians. He’d give you a chance on smaller stuff to show what you got… if you lived up to your part… he delivered on his part of giving smaller groups the ability to grow and play shows with big touring bands and help gain recognition for musicians of the Pacific Northwest.
Rob Lines (Metal Fan)
If it wasn’t for Mike Thrasher the Finger Family would not exist. The bond between a Father and Daughter would not be as strong as it is. My Daughter’s teenage years into young adulthood have been molded because of the bands that Mike Thrasher promoted. I too have learned to love these bands and the Metal Family that I have met because of Mike Thrasher. R.I.P. Mike Thrasher.
Jeni Lines (Metal Fan)
Over the last seven years, I’ve been attending many shows. The majority of them were produced by Mike Thrasher. If it wasn’t for Mike Thrasher my dreams wouldn’t have come true. Music is my life, it’s my legacy. So thank you, Mike Thrasher, rest in peace.
Dane Haas (American Bastard)
I want to say a few things about Mike Thrasher. For anyone starting a band, or playing in a band, he was the guy who could make or break you. I had just become a drummer in an original band (American Bastards) and we had a fan that was to become our “Manager”. She had been in the business for a long time and decided to take us under her wing. She had been booking national acts all over Portland for years..the one and only Jessica Gachupin. I had given Mike a demo of ours but had no response yet, so Jess made a call we were booked that night. It was the start of a great band/promoter relationship for us and him. When Jessica sadly passed, I tried my best to keep our band relevant. I talked to him and asked if I could be the guy to book our shows since we didn’t have anyone else, but I had no experience. He said our songs were worthy, but I needed to do some road work on marketing, and showed me the “in’s and out’s” of booking and playing venues in PDX. At this time I had been to all of the hotspots in Portland but never played them. He gave us a shot to play the Hawthorne, which became our place to rock, but in doing so, laid down some rules…He said, “work the crowd, have a good time, don’t start, or end, late, be professional, and always be gracious. Using what little he gave me to a “T” we started gaining momentum in the Portland scene. After becoming a regular name to headline the “thorne” He gave us our first big gig on the Roseland stage opening for the group Candlebox, It just went straight up from there. Bigger more popular bands, more tickets sold, gaining recognition, and the band was rolling. Some of the best memories I have are from the gigs he asked if we could do, and we did every gig he presented to us. It was looking over to see him, Zakk Wylde and Black label society waiting for us to start our set, he gave me a thumbs up and I realized what was going on, and who was standing there. For me, it was a very star-struck moment that caused me to pause and jaw dropped open to what seemed like an hour but was probably 2 seconds of everyone in the venue (plus my band) waiting for me to count in. He single-handedly was the reason people in Portland know who I am. It was because of him there is a micro unseen scar left in Portland for us, but for American Bastard but a universe of memories, and the greatest times I’ve ever known musically that are the direct result of him being so kind and taking a chance on us. He had great communication, a pro, and was able to juggle a million things at one time. Honestly, as I see it I may need to look into his legacy and try to keep building where he left off. Thank you, Mike, for everything you allowed us to do, and all of the info and skills you gave me. You are deeply missed and always remembered.
All I knew about Mike Thrasher is that he brought great metal shows throughout the years.
Lavida Medellin (Music Journalist)
Mike Thrasher was an inspirational person. He brought the magic of music to Oregon and invited us all.
Lee Lovell (A. L. O. T.)
I’m still processing. I’ve known Mike for a very long time, both friendship and business-wise. He was always a great dude. Over the years he gave several of my band’s great opportunities and experiences in supporting some incredible touring bands that he promoted. I was never really able to thank Mike properly for that, but he never seemed to care about shit like that anyway. I will miss him and his impact on our local scene.
Cody Perez (Amerakin Overdose)
I am really sad to hear he passed away. He definitely gave a lot of opportunities for bands to play in front of bigger audiences and gave something back to Portland for us to have entertainment and live music.
MIRP will add more as they come in…