"Cub" Koda, 51, musician, songwriter
By Sarah A. Webster / The Detroit News
CHELSEA -- Michael "Cub" Koda, a beloved local
musician, songwriter and music critic who led the Ann Arbor
band Brownsville Station to the top of the pop charts in 1974
with the song Smokin' in the Boys Room, died on Saturday, July
The 51-year-old died at Chelsea Community Hospital from
complications from kidney disease, said his 16-year manager,
Thomas "Doc" Cavalier.
In recent years, Mr. Koda, who lived with his wife, Jeannie,
at a residential recording complex in Chelsea, made an
appearance in a VH-1 Where are They Now? segment.
At least six other Koda songs made the Billboard charts,
though none was as successful as Smokin'. In 1985, the rock
band Motley Crue remade Koda's 1974 hit.
Fellow musicians were saddened at the news of Koda's
George Bedard played with Mr. Koda at the Ark on Main Street in
Ann Arbor every year with other friends who returned home for the
"We'll really miss him," Bedard said. "He was one of the best entertainers
I ever worked with. He was funny, and he just put everything he had into
when he was on stage."
Bedard remembered Mr. Koda, a guitarist, as a fan of all American-root
rockabilly and rhythm and blues.
Mr. Koda, a 1966 graduate of Manchester High School, also was a writer.
His father, Max, owned a small-town newspaper in Manchester.
Mr. Koda wrote a column for Discoveries music magazine for 22 years, and
contributed to other publications. His output included liner notes for
over 60 CD collections
for Rhino Records, Time-Life, MCA and Motown.
He also edited two reference books, The All-Music Guide and The All-Music
Guide to the
Blues. In 1998, he wrote Blues for Dummies, part of a popular paperback
In 1995, after releasing a new album, Abba Dabba Dabba, Mr. Koda hit the
stage in Ann
Arbor for the first time in nearly a decade to the delight of his fans.
That album also
produced another hit, Random Drug Testing.
"This last year has been the most hectic and maybe the most creative in
my whole life," Mr. Koda told The News in an interview at that time. He
latest album a landscape of American music.
"Beneath that topcoat of fluff fun, what I was really trying to show was
interconnectedness of all these forms of American music," he said. "You've
got '60s garage
noise to Tex-Mex instrumentals to Detroit doo-wop to Chicago blues to Southern
I could've stuck country or jazz tunes on there, and it wouldn't have made
any difference. It's
all rock 'n' roll, as well as being tied together by my personality."
In an interview with The Detroit News, Mr. Koda was once asked whether
always being identified with his big hit, and whether he viewed it as a
"Are you nuts?" Mr. Koda replied. "For a short white kid with big glasses
Midwestern sticks to be in a band that makes a record that gets played
on the radio that a
million people go out and buy -- how could that possibly be a curse?
"I can think of a whole lot of people, with maybe even more talent, to
whom that has never
happened. To me it's happened twice. That's no curse, mister. That's a
Three months ago, Mr. Koda released another album, Noise Monkey.
"He was actually telling me four days ago that he never felt better," Cavalier
said. "He was
working until two days ago ... I feel like it's a great loss of talent
and a dear friend."
Mr. Koda's albums include Welcome to My Job, an anthology of the most popular
from his independent solo albums of the 1980s.
Mr. Koda is survived by his wife of 24 years; his son, Jesse Easudes of
Pittsburgh, PA; his
parents of Manchester; and a sister, Andrea Bollanger.
No visitation will be held. Graveside service will be held at 2 p.m. today
at Mount Hope
Memorials can be made to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, 913 W. Holmes, Suite
Lansing, MI 48910.
musician Michael Koda dies
By JIM SUHR
DETROIT -- Michael (Cub) Koda, the singer and
songwriter behind the 1970s hit "Smokin' in the Boys'
Room" and the guitarist once described by author
Stephen King as "America's greatest houserocker,"
Koda, 51, died about 2:45 a.m. of complications from
kidney dialysis at Chelsea Community Hospital, said
John Mitchell Sr. of Chelsea's Staffan-Mitchell
Funeral Home, which is handling arrangements.
Born in 1948 in Detroit and reared listening to jazz,
Koda began playing drums at age 5 and took up
guitar nine years later before playing in a high school
band called the Del Tinos.
Borrowing his nickname from the character "Cubby"
on television's Mickey Mouse Club, Koda in 1969
formed Brownsville Station and wrote "Smokin' in
the Boys Room," which in 1973 rose to No. 3 on
Billboard magazine's charts and sold more than 2
Brownsville Station disbanded in 1979, six years
before "Smokin' in the Boys' Room" was revived by
heavy metal band Motley Crue.
In later years, Koda said he never grew weary of
playing the song, joking that "people would kill me if I
"Let's just say if you could write a song that made
people happy when you played it, you'd be playing it,
too," Koda told the Detroit Free Press in 1995.
Koda later played in groups called the Points and the
Bone Gods, as well as releasing solo works
spotlighting rockabilly and blues. In his dedications to
his Bachman Book collection, the horror-writing
King labeled Koda "America's greatest
Koda's releases included "Smokin' in the Boys'
Room: The Best of Brownsville Station" and "Abba
Dabba Dabba: A Bananza of Hits," featuring Koda
on the cover dressed as a gorilla and a doo-wop take
of "Meet the Flintstones."
He co-authored "Blues for Dummies" in 1998 and
has written a monthly column called "The Vinyl
Junkie" for trade magazines.
Survivors include his wife of 23 years, the former
Jeannie Parker; a son, Jesse Easudes of Pittsburgh;
and his parents of Manchester, Mich.
Graveside services will be at 2 p.m. Monday at Mt.
Hope Cemetery, Waterloo.
No visitation is planned.