Detroit DJ Mike Huckaby remembered as a generous spirit and kind soul

Celebrated house music DJ died Friday, reportedly from complications of a stroke and COVID-19

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Detroit's electronic music community is mourning the loss of one of its own.

Mike Huckaby, veteran Detroit house music DJ and label head has died, his booking agency announced on Friday.

Veteran Detroit DJ Mike Huckaby died Friday.

The cause of death is reportedly complications of stroke and COVID-19, according to a statement on social media from fellow DJ Delano Smith. A GoFundMe was launched last month to help with Huckaby's expenses after he suffered a "medical setback." The fundraiser, organized by Smith, nearly quadrupled its $7,000 goal. 

"We ask that you keep his family in your thoughts and respect his legacy while we sort through the aftermath," Smith wrote on Saturday, adding that a memorial "of sorts" is being planned at an outdoor venue once social distancing restrictions are lifted. 

Huckaby was an integral part of the electronic music community in Detroit. He was a fixture at Detroit's Memorial Day weekend techno festivals, playing the first DEMF in 2000 and performing at the festival in its various incarnations many times over the years. He was a part of the seven member committee who helped determine the fest's lineup in 2002. 

Detroit techno pioneer Derrick May calls the loss of Huckaby "a damn shame."

"I've known Mike since the very beginning," says May, who met Huckaby in the mid-1980s, and would borrow equipment and records from him when the two were starting out.

"He was always very generous. He let me borrow his mixer when we were just kids together, young guys playing music because we loved playing music, tying to be better than the next, when we had no idea what it would become," he says. 

May says Huckaby had a stare that he compares to actor Woody Strode. "If you met Mike and you didn't know him, you were probably intimidated by him. He had those eyes. But inside, he was the nicest person you could ever imagine, a sweetheart of a guy," he says. 

"I miss him," May says. "It's a tough one." 

Mike Himes hired Huckaby to run his dance room at Record Time in Roseville in the 1990s and worked with him for more than 10 years. 

He knew him first as a customer. 

"He was a quiet guy, a very nice low-key dude, and you could always tell he was on a mission to find some good records," Himes says. 

Huckaby was in the store one day and the previous manager of the dance room had just left his job. "So I just asked him if he wanted to run it, and he started the next day," Himes says. 

Huckaby ran the section of the store and did all the ordering for the dance room, which at the time accounted for 25-30 percent of Record Time's sales. 

"He always treated people, no matter what type of music taste they had, with respect," Himes says. "He always helped people find the proper music no matter what kind of music they needed, whether they were a fan, a jetsetter DJ or a DJ in a strip club."

Himes describes Huckaby as "a quality, solid guy who loved music and loved to share it with people."

Various members of the electronic music community in Detroit and worldwide shared remembrances of Huckaby on social media on Friday and Saturday. 

"RIP Mike Huckaby. A teacher, mentor, masterclass DJ and producer. A part of what makes electronic music special. A part of what makes Detroit music sublime. You will be missed greatly," Ann Arbor-based independent music label Ghostly International wrote on Twitter Friday. 

"Rest in peace Mike Huckaby. Your music has & will continue to inspire us," English duo Disclosure wrote on Twitter early Saturday. 

Melody Baetens contributed