Ocean Beach 07

Michael Cornelius Zanetis

July 19, 1954 ~ November 18, 2023 (age 69) 69 Years Old
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Michael Zanetis Obituary

Michael C. Zanetis, a man whose life was a symphony of creativity, courage, and kindness, left this world on November 18, 2023, at the age of 69. Born on July 19, 1954, in Olney, Illinois, Michael's journey began as a bright spark in the bustling household of John and Mary Zanetis. His story, a testament to the power of passion and perseverance, unfolded in the sun-kissed city of Newport Beach, California, where he took his final bow.

From the tender age of six, when the Zanetis family moved to Vincennes, Indiana, Michael's life was a canvas of learning and growth. He embraced education at Sacred Heart Elementary School and honed his musical talent at Rivet High School, where Sister Mary Sarah introduced him to the beats and rhythms that would become his lifelong companions. The drums were not just an instrument for Michael; they were the heartbeat of his dreams.

After graduating in 1972, Michael took a leap of faith, attending Holiday Inn University in Olive Branch, Mississippi. He emerged in 1974 with a robust foundation in hospitality, a skill he first applied at his brother's restaurant. Yet, it was the melody of music that called to him, a call he could not ignore. In 1976, with the creation of MCZ Records and the recording of the album "Better Late than Never," he began to dance to the tune of his true passion.

The album was a masterpiece, featuring legends like Larry Carlton on guitar and Victor Feldman on keyboards, Mike Porcaro on bass and Jay Graydon on guitar, session players of Steely Dan—Michael's musical idols. It was during this time that he crossed paths with the great B.B. King, a friendship that would not only define but also enrich his life for 35 years. Michael's love for music was not just about the notes; it was about the connections, the friendships, and the memories created along the way.

In 1978, Michael's heart found its rhythm in harmony with his childhood sweetheart, Denice Smith. Their marriage was a duet of love and support, a partnership that stood the test of time for 45 years. Together, they built a life in San Juan Capistrano, California, a testament to their unwavering commitment to each other.

Michael's entrepreneurial spirit and hospitality expertise culminated in the opening of "Michael's Supper Club" in 1988. Situated in Dana Point Harbor, this establishment was not just a restaurant; it was a stage for dreams. Who better to christen this venture than B.B. King himself, turning the grand opening into a night of unforgettable entertainment?

The bond between Michael and B.B. King was more than a friendship; it was a shared journey that led to the blues legend's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2015—a star that Michael proudly gifted to his dear friend. This act was not just a gift; it was a celebration of a friendship that transcended time and the music industry.

Michael's storytelling prowess took a cinematic turn in 2016 with the inception of "The Thrill is On," a movie that captured the essence of his bond with B.B. King. Though Michael will not see the release of this tribute to their friendship, his vision will grace the silver screen, inspiring many.

Michael's legacy is carried on by his beloved wife, Denice, and his devoted siblings: Charles, Steve and his wife Vicki, William, Joe, Mary Ella, Martha, and Catherine. Each of them embodies the traits that Michael so effortlessly showcased—creativity, courage, and kindness.  He was preceded in death by one brother, John Zanetis.

Michael C. Zanetis lived as he played: with passion, with purpose, and with a generosity of spirit that touched all who knew him. His life was a melody of success, friendship, and love—a melody that will continue to inspire long after his final curtain call. Let us celebrate Michael, not with sorrow, but with the joy and enthusiasm with which he lived every day. His beat goes on, echoing in the hearts of those who were fortunate enough to be part of his remarkable journey.

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Graveside Service
December 4, 2023

12:00 PM
El Toro Memorial Park, Lake Forest, CA


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