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TV Producer Mike Fleiss Getting Back to His Rock ’n’ Roll Roots

In the whirlwind world of television production, few names resonate as distinctly as Mike Fleiss. Known for his unparalleled knack for crafting reality TV that’s captivated millions, Fleiss is never afraid to embark on a new adventure. This time around, it’s with his guitar in hand.

The ambitious Hollywood phenomenon recently started a rock outfit with his friend Pat Mayer.

“We have a new tribute band,” Mike Fleiss shares. “We both love the Grateful Dead, and we both love Neil Young, and we both played in tribute bands around those two artists.”

Through that shared passion, the band Grateful Young was born. The group will blend elements of rock, folk, bluegrass, and psychedelic music — and songs by the legendary artists that inspired the name. Although Fleiss and Mayer have been performing in bands together since the ’80s, Fleiss says they wanted to put together a fresh concept based on some of their favorite tunes.

“It dawned on us that nobody had ever combined them into one band, so we’re creating a combination tribute band called Grateful Young,” Mike Fleiss explains. “We’re just going to play Grateful Dead and Young covers.”

Renowned for their live performances, the Grateful Dead has maintained a solid following — despite the deaths of some original members — thanks to tribute bands keeping alive the chance for fans to relive the magic of a live Dead show, particularly for those who never got to see the original band perform.

Mike Fleiss has been a lifelong fan and even got to know the band’s rhythm guitar player, Bob Weir, while filming the documentary The Other One: The Long Strange Trip of Bob Weir, which is currently streaming on Netflix.

Fleiss and Mayer will be playing lead and rhythm guitar for Grateful Young, which is set to hit the road for a spring tour that will take the two from Santa Barbara, California, up to Portland, Oregon.

The TV creator adds that hitting the road to play music is something he’s really excited about. A massive music fan since his teens, he reveals he has two rooms in his home stacked with memorabilia celebrating the Dead and another favorite, Black Sabbath.

“I’m sitting in a room that I have decorated all with Black Sabbath stuff. I have another room in my house, it’s all Grateful Dead stuff, but right now I’m in the Black Sabbath room,” Mike Fleiss says. “I just love those bands.”

A love of music permeates many aspects of Mike Fleiss’ life. The innovative producer considered the late, great guitar legend Eddie Van Halen a dear friend. The two embarked on a journey of sobriety together and enjoyed jam sessions. Van Halen passed away in 2020 after a brave battle with cancer.

“We were very good friends,” Fleiss recalls. “We drove the exact same car. It was a rare car, a Mercedes ’93 500 E, and then we both had this exact same hollow-body Gibson guitar called the Barney Kessel. We would sit and play guitar, and he would show me how to do little tricks. He’s the greatest magician on that instrument that there ever was. I miss that guy. He was a wonderful


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