View from an InnerView: One final chapter in the lasting legacy of Calgary music icon Mike Bezzeg (Part III)

“Can you come over today?”

Mike and I would talk every day on Facebook Messenger and, because I’d pass the street where he lived on my way home from work, I’d often drop by just to hang out in person. Our frequent get-togethers were, for the most part, casual. But the tone of this message, sent in late 2018, was not casual. It was urgent.

“What’s up, Mike? Something wrong?”

“No, I’m re-launching FM Moving Pictures and I want you involved.”

Well, well, well. 

Two years prior, I had asked Mike to participate in a short clip for a movie I was making. I had an odd request: I needed him to pretend FM didn’t go off the air in 1984 and had continued to make the show to present day. Watching Mike look into my camera and say, “Welcome to this week’s episode of FM Moving Pictures” — in 2016! — sent a shiver down my spine. Once again, I was suddenly that 14-year-old, music-obsessed kid who watched the show on my tiny B&W bedroom TV every week, hanging on every word and every video. Back then, Mike’s show was a door to a bigger, broader, weirder world where I hoped I would live one day; a world where my fellow FM viewers would gather and create. (Spoiler alert: we did.) And here was the show’s host and creator, saying the words that still made me happy and excited. Perhaps Mike enjoyed saying those words, too, because two years later, he wanted to tell me his plans for reviving the show. 

So I went over to his house during a lunch hour. Mike told me he wanted to get back into the game. He said he had started to feel like yesterday’s man and that made him sad. He believed, even in his mid-60s, he still had more to contribute to the Calgary community he loved. He had reached out to mainstream media outlets to offer his services as an arts reporter but received no reply. The silence hurt him deeply. And that’s when he decided to revive FM. 

I supported my friend of 30-plus years the best way I knew how. I told him bringing back FM was a terrible idea. The five years of FM were perfect. His co-host James Muretich is gone and, although I was flattered he wanted me involved, I wasn’t interested in being a second-rate James for a second time in my life. Plus, Mike wasn’t as plugged into new music as he once was and people didn’t need to wait a week to see the latest cool videos. They’re available upon demand online. Mike nodded affirmatively at my comments, and seemed intrigued when I said: “But what about a different kind of show? One on the web where you can do anything you want? Where you don’t have to compete with your younger self? And the show can exist online where you can still share videos and music with the people who watch you?”

And we were off.

Starting in the summer of 2019, I worked with Mike to bring the web series InnerView With Mike Bezzeg to life. Mike contributed the show’s name and reached out to Tona Walt Ohama to create the theme music. It was Mike’s responsibility to find and book guests, arrange the shoots (his son, Christian, was one of the cameramen), do the interviews, and get me the footage. I’d take care of the rest. I was pleased to learn Mike was not a micro-manager and he gave me the space to be creative — even as I totally ripped off Peter Saville for the show’s logo and look. Our biggest disagreement was over frequency: Mike wanted a weekly program; I suggested twice a month because of the time demands of editing. Mike relented because he didn’t want his dream to affect time with my family. Because he was a family man now. He knew what was truly important.

Mike Bezzeg, left, chats with musician Russell Broom

The first of 10 episodes of InnerView With Mike Bezzeg launched Nov. 14, 2019, with guest Russell Broom. An Eric Volmers feature on the program appeared on the Calgary Herald website that day, and a full-page article (with a front-page throw) in the paper a couple days later. I wish I could have seen Mike’s face when that paper arrived on his doorstep that morning. Another article, by Mary-Lynn Wardle, was published on the theYYSCENE website that same weekend. Mike was overjoyed by the response from the media and from the show’s viewers. He was back. The 10th and final episode of InnerView was posted exactly one week before the motor collision that eventually claimed his life. Mike was especially proud of the series finale, featuring Oscar Lopez; proud of the first season; and we had plans to meet for dinner to discuss an ambitious, more polished Season 2 that will sadly never be produced. 

I am still processing the loss. Mike has been an integral part of my life for more than 40 years, even before I met him. So much of who I am, and what I do, links back to him. I can’t believe we will no longer swap records we bought for one another whenever we meet. Or to talk about our families and how proud we are of our children. Or go to concerts together. (I particularly enjoyed taking him to see Gary Numan at the Commonwealth Bar and Stage in 2017. That night I felt my world had come full circle, as I was introduced to Numan’s music on one of the first FM episodes I watched. Hanging out with him at Echo and the Bunnymen was cool for the same reason.) I loved that man. I am glad I told him that often.

Now at night when I am usually hit by a tsunami of grief over the loss of my friend, I console myself by focusing my thoughts on one thing:

Mike spent the last few months of his life surrounded by his beloved family, doing the thing he was born to do and that he loved doing most: interviewing artists he admired and sharing his love of art with others.

Nobody did that quite like Mike.

(Photos courtesy David Kotsibie.)

David Veitch was a friend of Mike Bezzeg’s for more than 30 years and the associate producer and editor of InnerView with Mike Bezzeg. He was also the long-time music writer and Entertainment Editor at the Calgary Sun.