Popular E. Bay gay bar DJ Michael Counihan dies

  • by Cynthia Laird
  • Wednesday January 10, 2018
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Michael Counihan, a longtime disc jockey at Club 1220, a gay bar in Walnut Creek, died January 3. He was 65.

Rik Newby, manager at Club 1220, said that Mr. Counihan, a gay man, had recently experienced health issues and died at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. He declined to be more specific, citing a request by Mr. Counihan's family members.

Mr. Counihan was born December 1, 1952.

Mr. Counihan, aka "DJ Mikey," was also affectionately known as the "Mayor of Pine Street" and the "Ambassador of Club 1220," Newby said.

Club 1220 is located at 1220 Pine Street, Newby explained, and Mr. Counihan was often the first person people would see upon entering the bar.

He started working as a DJ at the club in 1997, Newby said.

"He DJ'ed every Friday and Saturday for 10-15 years," Newby added. "He loved playing 'I Wanna Dance with Somebody,' and if you requested a song, he'd remember it."

Ken Carlson, a gay man who is a Pleasant Hill City Council member and board president of the Rainbow Community Center of Contra Costa County, said that Mr. Counihan would be missed.

"He was a fixture in our community," Carlson wrote in an email. "His outgoing personality and generosity will be missed."

Carlson said that Mr. Counihan supported many causes and charitable events over the years, such as the Rainbow Community Center, the AIDS Walk, and the Imperial Court system.

"His support of my husband, Jeremy, and I during our reign in the Royal Grand Ducal Council of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties was a significant part of our success," Carlson added.

Ben-David Barr, Ph.D., who recently retired as the executive director of the Rainbow center, described Mr. Counihan as a "very kind man with a giant smile who made 1220 into a place filled with warmth and hospitality."

"He was also a great supporter of Rainbow Community Center and a past board member," Barr wrote in an email. "He recently attended our afternoon drag brunch - happy to celebrate in our success. He had a talent for showing kindness that instilled the feeling that he was rooting for you. He made the Contra Costa County LGBTQ+ community a kinder and better place. He will be dearly missed."

Up until several years ago, Mr. Counihan would also stop by the Bay Area Reporter's office weekly to pick up copies of the papers to take to the bar.

Newby said that memorial plans are pending.