Michael Reynolds played the electric guitar in barrooms, nightclubs and restaurants across New Bedford. But he was known as much for his devotion to family and friends as he was for the classic rock tunes that he loved to play.

Reynolds — “Mickey” to his many friends — contracted COVID-19 in March of 2020, just before the widespread use of face masks, social distancing and curbs on indoor gathering, said his widow, Gail Reynolds, who still lives in New Bedford’s North End.

He died April 11, 2020, at 56 years old.

Gail said her husband loved playing the guitar and owned seven of them, often turning to his prized Gibson Les Paul for use on stage. He most recently worked with three different bands — Distinction, The Backroads Band, and 5-inch Heels, a popular dining-music duo at the former Candleworks Restaurant in downtown New Bedford.

David Arruda, who played keyboards with Reynolds for some 30 years, said his friend was a gifted guitarist who could adapt to any style from classic rock to Dixieland jazz, flawlessly meshing with bandmates on any song in any key. “There was nothing that intimidated him.”

He was also a showman without par. On Halloween, he dressed up in full Kiss costume and makeup and performed one of his favorite Kiss songs, “Rock and Roll All Nite,” Arruda said.

Mickey Reynolds dressed as Paul Stanley from Kiss for a Halloween gig and (far left above) with his Backroads bandmates.

Mickey had a big heart and was always willing to help out with charities, his wife said. “If you wanted a band to play for free, he was there to do it … There’s not a person I know who didn’t like him.”

Reynolds’ regular job was driving a truck — delivering electrical parts to area businesses from the Graybar Electrical Supply Co. distribution center in Taunton. After his death, Graybar engraved his name on one of its new trucks, Gail Reynolds said.

When he wasn’t playing lead guitar or driving a truck, Mickey liked to tinker with home improvement projects. “He could build anything,” said his wife, who noted that her backyard is a testament to his talents — with a stamped-concrete patio, three decks, and a full-service outdoor kitchen for summertime grilling. “A million-dollar home should have this backyard,” she said.

The couple also enjoyed taking vacations in Jamaica, visiting the Island nation more than a dozen times and frequently staying at the Couples Resort in Ocho Rios.

“He was the first one to buy you a drink, the first one to toast a friend.”


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