Michael Bolton

Last updated

Michael Bolton
Michael Bolton in 1997.jpg
Bolton in 1997
Background information
Birth nameMichael Bolotin
Born (1953-02-26) February 26, 1953 (age 66)
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • piano
Years active1975 – present
Associated acts
Website michaelbolton.com

Michael Bolotin [4] (born February 26, 1953), known professionally as Michael Bolton, is an American singer and songwriter. Bolton originally performed in the hard rock and heavy metal genres from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, both on his early solo albums and those he recorded as the frontman of the band Blackjack. He became better known for his series of pop rock ballads, recorded after a stylistic change in the late 1980s.

Hard rock is a loosely defined subgenre of rock music that began in the mid-1960s, with the garage, psychedelic and blues rock movements. It is typified by a heavy use of aggressive vocals, distorted electric guitars, bass guitar, drums, and often accompanied with keyboards.

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

Blackjack was an American rock band, active 1979–1980, featuring Michael Bolton, Bruce Kulick, Sandy Gennaro and Jimmy Haslip. The band was short-lived, released two albums, the self-titled Blackjack in 1979 and Worlds Apart in 1980, and embarked on a small US nationwide tour.


Bolton's achievements include selling more than 75 million records, recording eight top 10 albums and two number-one singles on the Billboard charts, as well as winning six American Music Awards and two Grammy Awards. [5] [6]

American Music Awards annual American music awards show

The American Music Awards (AMAs) is an annual American music awards show, generally held in the Fall, created by Dick Clark in 1973 for ABC when the network's contract to air the Grammy Awards expired. It is the first of the Big Three music award shows held annually. Unlike the Grammys, which are awarded on the basis of votes by members of the Recording Academy, the AMAs are determined by a poll of the public and fans, who can vote through the AMAs website. The award statuette is manufactured by New York firm Society Awards.



Bolton began recording in 1975. This first album was self-titled using his original family name of Bolotin. Early in his musical career he focused on hard rock, with his band Blackjack once opening for heavy metal artist Ozzy Osbourne on tour. It was rumored that in 1983 Bolton auditioned for, but was denied, the lead vocalist position with Osbourne's former band, Black Sabbath. [7] Bolton later stated this was untrue, saying "That rumor about me auditioning for Black Sabbath was only a rumor, I don’t know how on earth it started." [8] [9]

Ozzy Osbourne English heavy metal vocalist and songwriter

John Michael "Ozzy" Osbourne is an English singer, songwriter, actor and reality television star who rose to prominence during the 1970s as the lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath, during which he adopted the nickname "The Prince of Darkness". Osbourne was fired from the band in 1979 due to alcohol and drug problems, but went on to have a successful solo career, releasing eleven studio albums, the first seven of which were all awarded multi-platinum certifications in the United States. Osbourne has since reunited with Black Sabbath on several occasions. He rejoined the band in 1997 and helped record the group’s final studio album 13 (2013) before they embarked on a farewell tour which culminated in a final performance in their home city, Birmingham, England, in February 2017. His longevity and success have earned him the informal title of "Godfather of Heavy Metal".

Black Sabbath British heavy metal band

Black Sabbath were an English rock band, formed in Birmingham in 1968, by guitarist and main songwriter Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler and singer Ozzy Osbourne. Black Sabbath are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970), and Master of Reality (1971). The band had multiple line-up changes, with Iommi being the only constant member throughout its history.

After anglicizing his family name to Bolton, he gained his first major hit as a songwriter, co-writing "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" for Laura Branigan, previously best known for singing the pop hit "Gloria". Narrowly missing the Top 10 on the US pop chart, Branigan took the song to number one on the Adult Contemporary chart for three weeks in 1983. The two sought to work with each other again, and their next collaboration was when Bolton co-wrote "I Found Someone" for Branigan in 1985. Her version was only a minor hit, but two years later, Cher resurrected the song, and with it her own singing career. Bolton co-wrote several other songs for both singers.

"How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" is a song written in 1982 by Doug James and Michael Bolton. The ballad has been recorded by many artists around the world, in several languages, becoming something of a modern pop standard. Instrumental versions of the song have been recorded featuring variously the piano, guitar, saxophone, pan flute, steel drum, and music box.

Laura Branigan singer from the United States

Laura Ann Branigan was an American singer, songwriter, and actress. Her signature song, the platinum-certified 1982 single "Gloria", stayed on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for 36 weeks, then a record for a female artist, peaking at No. 2. It also reached number one in Australia and Canada. In 1984, she reached number one in Canada and Germany with the U.S. No. 4 hit "Self Control". She also had success in the United Kingdom with both "Gloria" and "Self Control" making the Top 10 in the UK Singles Chart.

<i>Billboard</i> Hot 100 Song chart in U.S

The Billboard Hot 100 is the music industry standard record chart in the United States for songs, published weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on sales, radio play, and online streaming in the United States.

Bolton at the 1990 Grammy Awards MichaelBolton.jpg
Bolton at the 1990 Grammy Awards

Bolton achieved his greatest success in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a singer on the adult contemporary/easy listening charts. One of his first major hits was his 1987 interpretation of the Otis Redding classic "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay". Redding's widow, Zelma Redding, said she was so moved by Bolton's performance "that it brought tears to my eyes. It reminded me so much of my husband that I know if he heard it, he would feel the same." [10] Always interested in soul and Motown classics, Bolton's success with that song encouraged him to tackle the standard "Georgia on My Mind", with which he had another hit. In 1991, Bolton released the album Time, Love & Tenderness which featured his Grammy Award-winning cover version of "When a Man Loves a Woman". [11]

Easy listening is a radio format that was most popular during the 1950s to 1970s. It is related to middle-of-the-road (MOR) music and encompasses instrumental recordings of standards, hit songs and popular non-rock vocals. It mostly concentrates on music that pre-dates the rock n' roll era, mostly concentrating on music from the 1940s and before. It was differentiated from the mostly instrumental beautiful music format by its variety of styles, including a percentage of vocals, arrangements and tempos to fit various day parts during the broadcast day.

Otis Redding American singer, songwriter and record producer

Otis Ray Redding Jr. was an American singer, songwriter, record producer, arranger, and talent scout. He is considered one of the greatest singers in the history of American popular music and a seminal artist in soul music and rhythm and blues. Redding's style of singing gained inspiration from the gospel music that preceded the genre. His singing style influenced many other soul artists of the 1960s.

Soul music is a popular music genre that originated in the African American community in the United States in the 1950s and early 1960s. It combines elements of African-American gospel music, rhythm and blues and jazz. Soul music became popular for dancing and listening in the United States, where record labels such as Motown, Atlantic and Stax were influential during the Civil Rights Movement. Soul also became popular around the world, directly influencing rock music and the music of Africa.

As a singer, he has performed with other artists such as: Lucia Aliberti, Patti LaBelle, José Carreras, Tony Cetinski, Ray Charles, Celine Dion, Plácido Domingo, Renée Fleming, Wynonna Judd, BB King, The Lonely Island, Luciano Pavarotti, Percy Sledge, and Zucchero. As a songwriter, he has written and collaborated on several songs for other artists as well.

Lucia Aliberti is a Sicilian soprano opera singer. She performed the bel canto roles of Bellini, Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi, Puccini, Vivaldi, Mercadante, etc.

Patti LaBelle American singer-songwriter and actress

Patti LaBelle is an American singer, actress, and entrepreneur. LaBelle began her career in the early 1960s as lead singer and front woman of the vocal group, Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles. Following the group's name change to Labelle in the early 1970s, they released the iconic disco song "Lady Marmalade" and the group later became the first African-American vocal group to land the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

José Carreras Spanish opera singer

Josep Maria Carreras i Coll, better known as José Carreras, is a Spanish tenor who is particularly known for his performances in the operas of Verdi and Puccini.

Bolton's last Top 40 single in the US in his own right was the 1997 hit "Go the Distance" (featured in the Disney animated motion picture Hercules ), which peaked at No. 1 on the US adult contemporary chart. He hired conductor Larry Baird (orchestral musical director/conductor/arranger for The Moody Blues, Three Dog Night, Al Jarreau, etc.) for his 2001 tour.

In 2006, Bolton and his then fiancee Nicollette Sheridan sang a duet, "The Second Time Around", for the album Bolton Swings Sinatra . In March 2007, Bolton toured South Africa for the first time. He was the headline act at Jacaranda 94.2 FM's two-day concert.

For Over the Rainbow , an album which was recorded in five days, Bolton recorded the song "New York, New York", which was also on his Bolton Swings Sinatra album. This was for an episode of the TV series, Challenge Anneka . The proceeds from the album went to children's hospices across the UK.

Bolton performed a duet entitled "Il Mio Amico" with the Italian singer Anna Tatangelo at the Sanremo Music Festival 2008. The song was originally sung by Tatangelo alone, but the duet version contained English lyrics as well.[ citation needed ]

Bolton's album Only a Woman Like You was released in 2001. The title song was co-written by Shania Twain. Bolton released his album One World One Love in the UK on September 21, 2009. The first single, "Just One Love", was released one week earlier. [12]

Bolton in Barcelona, Spain, January 2010 Michael Bolton-01.jpg
Bolton in Barcelona, Spain, January 2010

In 2011, Bolton was featured as a guest vocalist in The Lonely Island's song "Jack Sparrow" on their Turtleneck & Chain album. His performance with the comedic hip-hop trio focused on his (intentionally) off-topic chorus and miscommunication with the group, and the video featured him dressed in costumes as Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean , Forrest Gump, Erin Brockovich, and Tony Montana from Scarface . [13]

As of February 2015, Bolton was working on the recording of a new studio album. He has collaborated with Indian musician A. R. Rahman for a song which was recorded in February 2011 for Gems – The Duets Collection . [14]

In 2013 Bolton released the album Ain't No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute to Hitsville U.S.A. , which featured duets with Kelly Rowland, Melanie Fiona and Orianthi. [15]

In 2013 and 2014, Bolton appeared in Honda commercials in which he sings.

In 2015 Bolton sang on John Oliver's Last Week Tonight episode concerning the IRS. [16]

In 2018, Bolton announced his intention to do a tour performance in Birmingham, England in November 2018, after two years since last time he visited the UK. [17]


Bolton has made a number of cameo appearances in feature films and television, usually appearing as himself, such as in Meet Wally Sparks and The Nanny . [18] Although he has been rumored to have appeared as an extra in Dune as a "spice-eyed" drummer, Bolton has stated in interviews that it is not him. [19]

In August 2006, Bolton was one of Lucy Lawless's duet partners on the Fox network's program Celebrity Duets , which Simon Cowell's Syco Productions Company produced for the network.

Bolton was a contestant on the eleventh season of Dancing with the Stars . [20] He and his dance partner Chelsie Hightower were the second couple to be eliminated, on September 28, 2010.

In 2015, Bolton starred in a Pizza Hut commercial as himself singing Jingle Bells while the family opens up their pizza order. [21]


On May 10, 2018, it was announced that American Dream: Detroit (Exclusive), Michael Bolton film, would premiere on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 in Redford Theater. [22] Despite Bolton being born in Connecticut, he fell in love with the city of Detroit and wanted to highlight its recent economic comeback. This documentary features interviews with several famous Detroit natives to include business moguls, singers and luminaries, including Chris Ilitch, Jerry Bruckheimer, Francis Ford Coppola, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, and Alice Cooper. This "Love-Letter to Detroit" film is reported by the Crain's (a local business publication) in an article titled "Michael Bolton to appear at Redford Theatre for Detroit documentary premiere", written by Annalise Frank. [23]

On February 24, 1992, the American R&B group the Isley Brothers filed a lawsuit against Bolton, claiming his 1991 hit song "Love Is a Wonderful Thing" plagiarized their 1966 song of the same name. [24]

A Los Angeles jury ruled in favor of the Isley Brothers on April 25, 1994. [25] The jury determined there were five instances in which Bolton's song plagiarized the Isleys' tune. Bolton, co-writer Andrew Goldmark and Sony Publishing were ordered to turn over more than $5 million in profits from the sales of Bolton's version of the song to the Isley Brothers. It was the largest award in history for plagiarism in the music industry. [26]

Bolton, Goldmark and Sony appealed the verdict, and the court fight continued for nearly seven more years. The case concluded on January 22, 2001, when the Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear the appeal of a May 2000 decision by the Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals in San Francisco. [27]

Under the Ninth Circuit ruling, the Isleys were to be paid $4.2 million from Sony Music, $932,924 from Bolton, $220,785 from Goldmark, and the balance from Bolton and Goldmark's music publishing company. [28]

Personal life

Bolton was married to Maureen McGuire from 1975 to 1990. [29] They are the parents of three daughters, each born two years apart: Isa, Holly, and Taryn. [30] [31] He became a grandfather for the first time in October 2010, through his daughter Taryn. [32] As of February 2019, he has six grandchildren, who range in age from 2 to 8. [33]

Bolton was introduced to actress Nicollette Sheridan in 1992 by adult contemporary/jazz saxophonist Kenny G. [30] Bolton and Sheridan dated until 1995, stopped dating, then reunited in 2005 and became engaged in March 2006; [30] however, it was confirmed in August 2008 that they had broken off their engagement. [34]

In January 2013, Bolton published an autobiography, The Soul of It All: My Music, My Life. [35] [36]

Charity work

The Michael Bolton Foundation

In 1993, Bolton established The Michael Bolton Foundation, later renamed The Michael Bolton Charities, to assist women and children at risk from the effects of poverty as well as emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. [37] In the late 1990’s the group was heavily criticized for the incredibly low percentage of contributions that went towards charity work. In 1995 only 15% of the 2.6m USD the foundation raised went to charity with most of the funds paying for a concert headlined by Bolton himself. [38] Bolton and the foundation have had a long running relationship with former Connecticut Governor John G. Rowland with Rowland steering state funding to the organization. In 1995 Bolton performed at a fundraiser for Rowland soon after the foundation received a grant of $300,000 from the state. [39] In 2014 Michael Bolton wrote a letter to the Judge overseeing Rowland’s sentencing in a campaign coverup trial in the name of the Foundation, stating "We, at The Michael Bolton Charities, believe John Rowland has much to contribute to our community and that given the opportunity, John will continue his work on behalf of women and children at risk.” [40] The foundation accepts grant proposals by invitation only. [41]

Other charity work

Bolton also serves as the honorary chairman of Prevent Child Abuse America, [42] the national chairman for This Close for Cancer Research, [43] and a board member for the National Mentoring Partnership [44] and the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital. [45]

On July 25, 1993, Michael Bolton played against Michael Jordan in a televised charity softball game at the Chicago White Sox stadium, Comiskey Park. Michael Bolton's team, The Bolton Bombers, won the game 7-1 against Michael Jordan's team, Jordan's Air Force. The Bolton's Bombers were composed of Michael Bolton and his band while the Jordan's Air Force was composed of celebrities including Magic Johnson, Chris Chelios, Ahmad Rashād, Mark Harmon, MC Hammer, Tom Selleck, Stacey King, and Bo Jackson as coach. [46]

In March 2003, Bolton joined with Lifetime Television, Verizon Wireless, and many others to lobby on behalf of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, [47] urging legislation to provide more assistance for victims of domestic violence, such as affordable housing options.

Bolton has received the Lewis Hine Award from the National Child Labor Committee, the Martin Luther King Award from the Congress of Racial Equality, and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations. [48] The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce [49] also recognized Bolton with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his musical and charitable contributions.


Since 1975, Bolton has released at least 17 studio albums and 35 singles. Nine of his singles have peaked at No. 1 on either the Billboard Hot 100 or the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks charts in the US. He has also released numerous compilation albums and three Christmas albums.

Awards and nominations


As actor

As executive producer

See also

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