Nearly a month after Detroit electronic music figurehead Mike Huckaby passed away of stoke complications compounded by COVID-19, 5 Magazine has paid him a touching tribute. The Chicago house-focused publication have dubbed their 181st edition “The Mike Huckaby Issue” with a cover story and two other features on the artist.
The issue marks the second time Huckaby appeared on the publication’s cover, but this time around they’ve gone to especially great lengths in elucidating his contributions to electronic music. Impossible as it is to distill a few key point from the lifetime of a person held in such high regard, a handful of themes stand out in the story of Mike Huckaby.
5. He was an unsung hero of house and techno
Although the PR narrative around his brand may not have been as robust as those of certain DJs and producers, Huckaby built upon the foundation laid in the ’80s by electronic music innovators in Chicago and Detroit. In “Mike Huckaby: A Production Primer,” Thomas Cox delves into the significance of tracks like “Flashbacks From The M1” as well as his his remix of “Sandcastle” by Precession, among others.
4. His career is a case study in staying the course
In the cover story, “Made In Detroit,” Terry Matthew argues that Huckaby’s career curiously began to gather momentum at a time when vinyl record sales dwindling as a whole. He writes that Huckaby told him, “I was at the pressing plant doing a re-order, and [Mike Archer] at [Archer Record Pressing] made a radical statement. He said ‘Ten years ago, other people were selling 3,000 records and you weren’t. Now you are, and they’re not.'”
3. He didn’t compromise when it came to music
Additional quotes obtained by Matthew speak to Huckaby’s artistic integrity. “I don’t predicate the decision on making ‘new fans,’ as ironic as that may sound,” he said in regards to the timing of releases. “It’s not about ‘new fans.’ It’s about finding more like-minded people. Even with Rick back in the day, that’s all we were doing. From Day 1: we were trying to find more like-minded people.”
2. He was generous and good natured
In “Mike Huckaby Had a Gift for Teaching People. Including Me,” former Record Time Assistant Manager Rick Wade writes of Huckaby that “He appeared very stoic, but beneath that — just ask around and you’ll hear people say he had a heart of gold.” At the same time, he warmly recounted moments of banter at the record store that might surprise those who only knew the DJ and producer peripherally.
1. He was as much a teacher as he was an artist
Among the more memorable passages in “Made In Detroit” was Matthew’s anecdote of Huckaby giving demos for the likes of Native Instruments and Ableton for the sole purpose of sharing wisdom. “Some people might feel like I’m giving away secrets, but I’m far more dangerous with my mouth shut than with it open,” Matthew remembered Huckaby telling him. Former Record Time Assistant Manager Rick Wade echoed as much in the very title of his aforementioned article.
Read “The Mike Huckaby Issue” in its entirety by subscribing to 5 Magazine.