We were saddened to learn of the death of our friends Bike Mike Sutherland and his girlfriend Li Limei.
Bike Mike was a legend of China, known throughout the country as the man with the incredibly long hair who had ridden his bike across all of Asia. Li Limei was a kindhearted woman who was together with Mike for a long time. The two of them had many adventures together, the last of which was a whitewater rafting trip in southern Yunnan province that ended tragically.
According to the accounts I’ve heard and read, their boat flipped over with them and a few other people in it. Several people swam to shore and survived. One of them said that Mike swam after Li Limei, who was being taken by the current, in an attempt to save her life.
I find it fitting that this man, our friend, who lived in life in such a beautiful way – without compromise, always with compassion – should have ended his life with a selfless act of love.
The last time we saw Mike was this past May in Beijing – we were up there for the MIDI Festival, visiting Eli, Jeff, and Kro. We got lucky in that Mike landed in Beijing while we were there on his way back to Kunming from the States. He had just been at a clothing show and so he was bouncing some ideas off of us for his company – something he loved to do with friends and strangers alike. He was always thinking about his business and how to make it grow. Check out www.peopleshemp.com to see what his company was up to. The clothes are great!
There was one time when Mike had been telling me how he used to play the trombone, and how he never played anymore. So Xianyi and I went over to his place one day and made him dust it off. I pulled out my guitar and we jammed out a bit while Xianyi read his many copies of Wallpaper magazine – one of which had printed a great photo of his of a man doing Tai Qi in a Kunming park.
When Fang Bian Mian had its many shows in the Speakeasy Bar, Li Limei was one of the women that Xianyi could always talk to. Xianyi often felt at odds with the 24-hour-party attitude in Kunming and the many ingenuine characters that went along with it. Li Limei was one of the women she found solace in.
Mike and Li Limei, rest in peace. We will miss you so much.