Legendary Vail aprés ski entertainer Steve Meyer dies
Meyer had played in the Vail Valley since 1986
Vail’s après ski music scene lost a legend on Jan. 7. Steve Meyer, who was known as the “Good Times Man” died in California where he was being treated for cancer. Meyer had been a fixture in local bars since he traveled to Vail in 1986 after taking time off to be a ski bum in Mammoth, California. Meyer was a native of California and graduated from San Diego State University. He was 63 years old.
Once Meyer landed in Vail, he was doing eight shows a week. He started out at the Red Lion and played gigs in Lionshead before taking over the après ski slot at The Club (currently the Shakedown Bar) in 1989 and held that post for 25 years.
Meyer, who was going to pursue a career in teaching and coaching before trying his hand at singing in ski towns, realized that being a musician was a more lucrative move.
“I made three times the money a school teacher makes, with three times the time off,” Meyers said of his gig in Mammoth in an article with the Vail Daily in 2014.
A few years into playing the Vail music scene, Meyer could make enough money in a ski season to take the rest of the year off. He would spend the remainder of the year in Hawaii.
News quickly spread on social media after Meyer’s passing on Thursday. Facebook posts flooded Meyer’s social media page with fond memories from fans around the world, recounting some fun stories and antics on stage.
Entertainer Scott Munns, who splits his time between playing gigs in Florida and Vail, remembers when he first met Meyer. They were both playing at The Club in Vail Village. Meyer played the après ski shift before Munns would play the late night set.
“I was always amazed at how he could completely control the crowd. He truly knew how to throw a party.” Munns said. “The shock of people’s reaction seeing him for the first time was almost as entertaining as he was.”
Meyer became known for his risque jokes, his popular words of wisdom “from Confucius” and the songs he’d rewrite, like “Beaver Creek Girl” which was played to the tune of Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl” and “Macho Ski Bum,” which was played to the tune of Elvis’ “All Shook Up.”
Audience participation was a must, and Meyer would somehow get people up on stage every show. Meyer also had a way of picking out patrons and persuading them to buy a round of shots for the entire bar. And they would do so.
“One season, a guy bought a $1,000 worth of Patron tequila shots for everyone at Shakedown Bar; the year before that, another gentleman bought the bar $6,000 in drinks,” Meyer told the Vail Daily in an article in 2014.
Local merchant Davy Gorsuch was a good friend of Meyer’s for many years and says that Meyer was a different person off the stage.
“He was an entertainer through and through and had a certain personality on stage that was raw and could be taken the wrong way, but off stage the guy had a huge heart, was a gentle giant and loved life,” Gorsuch said. “His biggest loves of his life were his wife, Janice, and his two young daughters, Summer and Skye.”
“I was with Steve when he was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma a little over four years ago. The doctors gave him four months to live and he made it over four years,” Gorsuch said. “He lived for his family.”
Munns was in Vail for a series of performances at Bridge Street Bar in Vail Village when he got the news about Meyer’s passing. Munns decided to dedicate a few sets of his Saturday night show to “The Good Times Man,” dubbing it the “1997 The Club” set.
Munns advertised his tribute to Meyer on Facebook and said “For those of us that knew him and appreciated his showmanship, it’s gonna be a blast!” Munns donned a Hawaiian shirt and cowboy hat, which was signature Steve Meyer apparel, in honor of him that night.
Both Munns and Gorsuch said that Meyer was like a brother to them.
“He taught me things musically that I’m still doing today,” Munns said.
“We had a lot of fun just jamming and playing music together. Steve had quite a library of his own original music and was a talented songwriter, but he always downplayed that,” Gorsuch said.
Munns returned to Florida on Monday but plans on doing another tribute to Meyer later this season at the Bridge Street Bar.
“I’m going to learn all of his songs and quotes and put on a good show for Steve,” Munns said. “He was such a legend in Vail.”
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