The Canadian music world was shocked and saddened by the untimely death of one of its own on Sunday.
Walk Off The Earth announced that one of its five members, Mike “Beard Guy” Taylor, passed away of natural causes.
“Mike had a love for life that was unmatched and a willingness to give that went beyond ordinary means,” said a statement from the band on social media.
“He passed peacefully from natural causes last night in his sleep. Our deepest sympathies are with his two children, whom he adored more than anything else in the world.”
Taylor and the band rose to prominence through a number of impressive and creative covers, highlighted by a cover of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” in early 2012.
In the video for their cover, all five band members are playing the same guitar simultaneously and it gained 175-million views on YouTube in just four months.
It also earned them a feature on The Ellen Show, where they performed the cover once again with one guitar, and a spot in the YouTube Rewind 2012.
Taylor’s role in the video was a simple pluck on the end of the guitar every few seconds, but his quiet, bearded presence became one of the most popular parts of Walk Off The Earth videos.
In a 2015 cover of One Direction’s “Drag Me Down,” which features Max Kerman of the Arkells, Taylor isn’t part of the video until the final seconds, when he seemingly comes out of nowhere to provide the percussion by smashing plates into a garbage can.
“Beard guy never fails to make me laugh,” said one YouTube comment, while another says, “epic Beard guy, throwing dishes like a boss.”
While his role and image in some of the band’s videos may have made Taylor seem like a gimmick to some, he was a very talented multi-instrumentalist who was a vital part of Walk Off The Earth’s success.
The band was supposed to be playing alongside Burton Cummings, The Sheepdogs and others in Niagara Falls tonight as a part of a New Year’s Eve CBC special, but they will no longer be performing.
The show was also supposed to kick off their 2019 world tour, which is expected to resume on Feb. 9 in Nova Scotia and will finish in Vancouver on Aug. 3.