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Mike Noga (far right) with The Drones. Photo by Marty Williams
It was with much sadness that we heard news yesterday of the passing of singer songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and former Drones drummer Mike Noga. Mike will be forever remembered for the wonderful performances and recordings he made with The Drones such as Gala Mill, Havilah and I See Seaweed albums. He left the band in 2014 to pursue a solo career and released three albums, After Folk Songs (2005), The Balladeer Hunter (2012), and KING (2017).
Mike’s sister Ali revealed the news on Facebook: “We are absolutely devastated to inform you of the passing of our beloved brother, son, uncle and dearest friend Mike. “We know how much he and his music meant to so many of you and there’s nothing we can say to make this hurt any less. “We miss you and love you so much, Mike.”
The reaction from the local music community has been one of disbelief. Close friend, Something For Kate’s Paul Dempsey paid tribute to Mike on social media yesterday. “Mike Noga was one of the funniest people I have ever known. He was also a ridiculously great all-rounder musician and songwriter and as well as watching him blow my mind with The Drones, I had the great pleasure of working with him both in my solo band, as a touring buddy and as producer on his ‘KING’ album. But whatever we were doing, mostly we were just laughing like idiots. By the time we finished recording KING in my spare room we could virtually hold entire conversations in a ‘private joke’ language that no one else would understand. I am going to miss those conversations. Our love and thoughts go out to his family and friends. xo”
On his Double J radio show today, Tim Rogers farewelled Noga with the words, “See you on the Lost Highway, dear boy…”
Longtime friend Kim Salmon posted a Youtube clip on Facebook of one of Mike’s songs, ‘Long Summer Days’ with the following words: “It’s seems any song is unbearably sad this week. I was looking for a song by my fellow Stomp warehouse worker Mike Noga. It was called Stolen Day – it was about taking a sickie from the endless days of clowning round, taking the piss and, oh yeah….. packing boxes. It was on Folk Songs. I couldn’t find it on youtube but this one is equally poignant. I don’t miss the box packing but I miss the clowning and piss taking, I miss all my fellow workers but right now.. most of all I miss YOU mate!”
Australian Musician got to know Mike back in 2008 when The Drones guest edited an issue of the magazine. One of our favourite articles of the issue was Mike’s collection of hotel bed photos and the stories that came with them. Mike photographed every hotel bed he slept in on tour, with a view to collating them one day into a book.