Sunday, November 13, 2011

Who is Lee Michaels?

Other than the fact he had 2 good albums, 2 bad albums, and this one, all I know is he also played with Jimi Hendrix.. I don't think he's on any officially released stuff, but he's certainly on some boots..
All in all, his albums are scarce, in any format.. especially cassette...
This his fifth album.. called, surprisingly enough, 5th..


  1. Lee Michaels was a fixture on the San Francisco Bay Area music scene of the late 1960s/early 1970s, playing frequently at the Avalon Ballroom, Fillmore, and other venues in the area. He toured often, playing all over the country and at many rock festivals. He was unique in that his performing act was usually a duet: either organ and drums or piano and drums. In the mid-1970s, he toured as a trio, playing electric piano and joined by a drummer and bassist. In addition to keyboards (organ, piano, harpsichord, and accordion), he also played guitar, trombone, and percussion. He was a good singer as well with a nice high range. Finally, he was an equipment junkie, and a pioneer of sorts in the studio -- see especially his album Recital -- where he played several instruments, laying the tracks before others did the same (such as Paul McCarthy, Todd Rundgren, etc.). At the end of the day, a very talented guy with his own vision, and in a class of his own among rock keyboard players: he had a funky-earthy-bluesy energy to his playing that really stands out among his contemporaries on keyboard, and he is really the only one who brought keyboards to the forefront (this of course pre-dates Elton John, Billy Joel, and even contemporaries such as Leon Russell tended to use piano within the context of the band and not as a solo instrument). Unfortunately, he dropped off the music scene in the mid-1970s, playing only sporadically thereafter.

    He actually had 10 albums under his own name:
    Carnival of Life (1968, A&M)
    Recital (1968, A&M)
    Lee Michaels (1969, A&M)
    Barrel (1970, A&M)
    Fifth (1971, A&M)
    Space & First Takes (1972, A&M)
    Live (1972, A&M)
    Nice Day for Something (1973, Columbia)
    Tailface (1974, Columbia)
    Absolute Lee (1980, Squish)

    He played on officially released recordings with Steve Miller (Number 5, 1970); Mike Bloomfield (group was called Mill Valley Bunch, album Casting Pearls, 1972); Tim Curry (Read My Lips, 1978); and The Rockets (No Ballads, 1980). The stuff he did with Hendrix is all available on bootlegs or official releases, all came from jam sessions in October 1968. He also recorded, though unreleased, with Noel Redding after Jimi had passed. His music -- Who Could Want More, Tell Me How Would You Feel, Mad Dog, among other songs -- has been sampled by numerous Rap and Hip Hop artists.

    Listen to him playing live at his peak with Frosty here:

  2. A great comment! Although I knew he was a fixture around San Francisco.. I didn't know about all the other albums of his..seems he was as much a mover with keyboards in the US as Brian Auger was across the Atlantic..