The day Mike Ridley received his third layoff notice in two years while teaching public school in rural northern Michigan, he began to suspect that destiny was calling.
So, from the middle brow world of small town academia he tuned his guitar and turned his attention to the heartburn and hangovers of smoke filled beer gardens, bowling alleys and dusk to dawn cribbage games acquiring along the way a taste for the night life and a penchant for story telling.
Soon he became a regular favorite in the counties bordering the upper Great Lakes but felt the need to journey south to Detroit and dive into a folk/country scene that he soon discovered had long since dissipated.
Encouraged by his wife and a lack of reserve capital he stuck to his "craft," writing and singing songs by night and by day suffering the humiliation and raw terror of substitute teaching. Mike sensed providence was directing him into the music business or specifically, preventing him from landing a "real" day job.
Consequently, he devoted his energy and attention to creating a full-time occupation of playing local bars.
Weaving his stories, anecdotes and humor in and out of a seemingly endless well of music, Mike began to realize his ambitions and with the help of legions of loyal fans, began packing major metropolitan clubs.
In early 1989 he joined the popular and highly rated WRIF morning radio show, writing novelty songs and parodies of current Motown and national political happenings. This became the springboard for his first national single, "Rubber Doll," which led to a recording contract with Detroit based R&A Records.
"Attitude Check", his first CD was released in 1990.
Through the years the demands on Mike's time have escalated. He has headlined concerts at Oakland University, John Carroll, Northern Michigan University, Michigan State University and University Of Michigan-Dearborn. He has opened at major venues for such musical acts as Bobby Vinton, Hiroshima, Leon Russell, Three Dog Night, The New Mamas and the Papas, Don McLean, Neil Young, The Doobie Brothers, Tanya Tucker, Carol King, The Pointer Sisters, Jefferson Starship and Cheap Trick. He has also opened for major comedy acts Elayne Boosler, Richard Lewis and Tim Allen.
Mike was voted the 1995 Detroit Metro Times Reader's Poll "Comedian of the Year." He has had extensive experience entertaining corporate clients such as Monsanto, General Electric, Detroit Edison, General Motors and the Chrysler Corporation. In fact, it is Mike's creative custom writing that has made him a favorite with his clients.
Mike has always found time to help in a good cause, performing at numerous charity functions as well as participating with rock legends Mitch Ryder and Grand Funk's Mark Farner in a recording project to benefit muscular dystrophy research. Presently, he is an at-large board member for the Children's Leukemia Foundation of Michigan.
His involvement with the Tiger Stadium Fan Club and its efforts to preserve the historic structure led him to produce and release a single, "Don't Tear it Down" by Thom Sharp as well as his own ode to baseball, "Opening Day" with Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell. In 1991 the songs were accepted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library in Cooperstown.
His last full length studio release "One of a Kind" came out in 1996 and in 1998 a single from the album, "Michigan Man," was nominated as the official state song of Michigan. Since then he's released one Christmas EP, "What to Buy Jesus for Christmas," and one Live CD, "A Guy Walks Into a Bar."
At the end of a successful rookie campaign Mike Ridley won the office of the Supervisor of Tuscarora Township in November 2008. In a year of Democratic landslides this Republican candidate prevailed. Mike is enjoying the challenge and is excited, even in these droll economic times, to be involved in the growth and development of his community. He gives thanks to the many people for their words of encouragement and congratulations.
Through it all, Mike has remained a devoted and happily married family man and resides in Indian River, Michigan with his wife, Sharon and their two sons, Quinn and Andrew.