Mike "Beard Guy" Taylor, keyboardist and vocalist in Walk off the Earth, died peaceably from “natural causes” in his sleep, Dec. 30, according to a tweet posted by the Canadian band Sunday night.
Scheduled to play a New Year's Eve show Monday night in Niagara Falls with The Sheepdogs and Burton Cummings, the event was to be part of a CBC television special and the launch of the group’s 2019 Canada, US, European tour. The show went ahead without the group's performance.
The Juno Award-winning pop group is widely known for their cover songs on YouTube, as well as originals that include the recent "Fifth Avenue" single.
Their cover of “Somebody That I Used to Know,” posted in 2012, has been viewed more than 185M times. It features all five band members simultaneously playing a single guitar and singing in harmony.
The most recent release was "Subscribe to the Holidays" in November with Taylor playing Santa in the band's YouTube version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."
Walk off the Earth was founded in Burlington, ON, and the city's Mayor, Marianne Meed Ward, released the following statement on the passing of Taylor.
“We are all deeply saddened to hear of the sudden death of Mike Taylor. Our city joins together in mourning this tragic loss, and sending condolences to Mike's family, band mates, friends and fans at home and around the world.
“Flags at Burlington City Hall have been lowered to half-mast in Mike's honour.
“Mike and the other members of Walk Off the Earth are from Burlington, with Mike and his family making their home in downtown Burlington. Mike and the band returned to our hometown many times to show their support and love for the city, and we thank them for that.
“You have left us with a rich musical legacy. Thank you, Mike, for your contribution to music here and around the world. We will truly miss you.”