Queen Village’s Mike Tyler is best known as a professional guitar player who has reportedly worked with everyone from Prince to Pearl Jam to Billy Joel. But right now, he’s sitting in jail for allegedly raping a child.
Tyler, who goes by the stage name “Col. Mike Tyler”, has been arrested and charged with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful contact with a minor, and sexual assault, among other offenses. He’s incarcerated at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Northeast Philadelphia, with bail set at $150,000.
According to the father of the child in question, the incident occurred on August 13th at the family’s home in South Philadelphia. The dad, who agreed to speak with Philly Mag on condition of anonymity, is a musician and knows Tyler from the local music scene.
“I think I first met him at Connie’s Ric Rac,” the dad tells us, referring to the popular South Philadelphia music venue, which hosted Tyler’s birthday party jam in July.
He says he invited Tyler, who is 58, to a big barbecue party at his house on August 12th. It was there that Tyler first met the man’s 14-year-old son, who listened as Tyler held court, talking about his famous friends.
According to the dad and others we spoke with who know Tyler, the guitarist is a bit of a rock-and-roll braggart, constantly name dropping and waxing on about his musical pedigree. His most recent brush with the glamorous life was an encounter with bona fide rap star Pharrell Williams, who extended get-well wishes to Tyler’s wife in a Facebook video, with Tyler standing next to him. The son seemed impressed with Tyler’s stories, as most 14-year-olds would be.
The next morning, says the dad, Tyler called with an offer to help clean up the party mess, an offer that was happily accepted. As the dad tells it, he and Tyler were doing some work upstairs when the dad had to go downstairs to attend to something else. Tyler remained upstairs, claims the dad, who says he lost track of Tyler for maybe ten minutes.
It was during this interval that Tyler allegedly went into a room where the boy was still in bed. According to the charges filed in court, Tyler raped the boy while the father was downstairs. Tyler soon went home.
The dad says that he knew something was wrong right away, that his son just didn’t seem like himself. He pressed his son for an explanation, and within a couple of days, the boy opened up about it.
“He was really embarrassed at first and scared,” says the dad. “He didn’t want to talk about it. I mean, he’s a 14-year-old boy. This is no easy thing to talk about. But I’m so proud of him for telling me.”
The boy and his father went to Special Victims Unit and gave a statement, and police arrested Tyler on Wednesday. He’s scheduled for a preliminary hearing on September 1st.
Tyler has spent his entire life in Philadelphia, working as a session musician with Sigma Sound, Ruffhouse Records, and a host of prominent musicians.
Remember L.L. Cool J’s fierce MTV Unplugged performance? That’s Col. Mike Tyler playing the guitar. His bio also claims work with the Rolling Stones, Billy Joel, Mariah Carey, and many others. When Prince died, CBS interviewed Tyler, reporting that he had played with the music icon.
And when Pearl Jam played a concert at Hersheypark Stadium in 2003, they brought Col. Mike Tyler out for their final encore, a cover of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.” Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder introduced Tyler as “a good friend,” and Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard added that Tyler is “Mr. Philadelphia” and “one of the most wonderful people I know.”
Watch Col. Mike Tyler with Pearl Jam:
“He’s no friend of mine,” says the dad. “He’s a fuck. And I want every musician he’s ever played with to know all about this. I don’t want him to get a gig in the worst bar in West Virginia.”
Ed. note: This article has been updated to correct the neighborhood in whih Tyler now resides.
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