Mike Cross, the co-founder and former guitarist for the Detroit alternative rock band Sponge, has died. Cross passed away on Sunday, March 6 at the age of 57. Cross' death was confirmed in a social media post by the band on March 9 reading, "It is with heavy heart that we share the news of the passing of Mike Cross. One of the musical architects and founding member of Sponge. His influence and talent will be missed." A cause of death was not given.
"We are devastated to hear of the passing of our rock 'n' roll brother and GRR family member – Mike Cross. What a gracious, wonderful human who had the voice of a husky angel and played guitar like the best of them," Cross' band Golden Robot Records said in a statement. "All of our global team wish music love to his brother Tim, bandmates, friends and family. A sad day for rock 'n' roll but a great day for that ever expanding rock band in heaven – who we are sure Mike is part of now."
Mike Cross, guitarist and co-founder of alt-rock band Sponge, dies at 57 😢💔😳 https://t.co/Kf2HAkJKp8— Julia (WHERE’S MOGILEVICH?) 🇺🇦🌻 (@MStereophonics) March 13, 2022
Cross, along with his brother Tim, got their start in the music industry in the Detroit-based band Loudhouse with drummer Vinnie Dombroski, and singer Kenny Mugwump. After forming in 1989, according to Guitar World, the band released one album, For Crying Out Loud, on Virgin Records in 1991. Their cover of Deep Purple's "Smoke On The Water" was featured on the soundtrack to the action film Point Blank. After adding Joey Mazzola as a second guitarist in 1992, the band broke up later that same year after singer Kenny Mugwump left. The remaining members of the band – Cross and his brother, Mazzola, and Dombroski – went on to form Spongewith drummer Jimmy Paluzzi.
Sponge quickly captured attention, and the band was signed to Columbia. They released their first album, Rotting Piñata, in 1994. That album was a massive success, not only being certified gold but also scoring two Top 100 hits with "Plowed" and "Molly (16 Candles Down the Drain)." Sponge released their sophomore album, Wax Ecstatic, just two years later in 1996. The album produced their third Top 100 single, "Wax Ecstatic (To Sell Angelina)." Despite the success, Sponge was ultimately dropped by Columbia shortly after the album's release. Following the release of New Pop Sunday in 1999, the band briefly disbanded after Cross and his brother left. Neither of the Cross brothers rejoined the band for Sponge's reunion. In the years after leaving Sponge, Cross continued to release music while maintaining a low profile. He released an EP, No Nostalgia, with his band MC Roads on Golden Robot Records last fall.
News of Cross' death was met with an outpouring of tributes. Reacting to Sponge's social media post, one person wrote, "I'm so sorry to hear about his passing. My condolences to his family and friends and all who love him." One fan remembered Cross as a "great player with great tone."