Michael Kamen

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Michael Kamen
Michael Kamen.jpg
Kamen in 1993
Background information
Birth nameMichael Arnold Kamen
Born(1948-04-15)April 15, 1948
New York City, U.S.
DiedNovember 18, 2003(2003-11-18) (aged 55)
London, England
Genres Film score, rock, pop
Occupation(s) Composer, orchestral arranger, orchestral conductor, songwriter, session musician
Years active1967–2003
Formerly of
Spouse(s)Sandra Keenan-Kamen

Michael Arnold Kamen (April 15, 1948 – November 18, 2003) was an American composer (especially of film scores), orchestral arranger, orchestral conductor, songwriter, record producer and musician.


Early life

Michael Arnold Kamen was born in New York City, [1] the second of four sons. His father, Saul Kamen, was a dentist, and his mother, Helen, was a teacher. [2] He was of Jewish heritage. [3]

While attending the High School of Music & Art in New York City, Kamen became friends with Martin Fulterman (later known as Mark Snow), who would compose the theme music for The X-Files , among other projects. While studying the oboe, Kamen formed a rock-classical fusion band called New York Rock & Roll Ensemble, [1] together with classmates Fulterman and Dorian Rudnytsky, along with Clifton Nivison and Brian Corrigan of Toms River, New Jersey. The group released five albums from 1968 to 1972 (Self-Titled, Reflections, Faithful Friends, Roll Over & Freedomburger). The group performed in white tie (not tuxedos), as typically worn by classical musicians. In the middle of the concert, Fulterman and Kamen would play an oboe duet. The group backed up friend and classmate Janis Ian in a concert at Alice Tully Hall in late 1967.[ citation needed ]

After graduating from high school, Kamen attended The Juilliard School, in Manhattan, New York City. [4]

Kamen's early work concentrated on ballets before extending to Hollywood with the score for The Next Man in 1976, [1] and then to pop and rock arranging, collaborating with Pink Floyd on their album The Wall . [4]


Kamen became a highly sought-after arranger in the realms of pop and rock music. His contemporaries in this field included Academy Award winner Anne Dudley, Richard Niles, and Nick Ingman. [1]

His successes include his work with Pink Floyd, David Gilmour and Roger Waters [5] (he is one of the few people invited to work with both former Pink Floyd members, even after their acrimonious split), as well as Queen (orchestration on "Who Wants to Live Forever"), Eric Clapton (on Edge of Darkness ), Roger Daltrey, Aerosmith (live orchestral version of "Dream On" for MTV), Kiss, Tom Petty, Bon Jovi, David Bowie, Bryan Ferry, Eurythmics, Queensrÿche, Rush, Metallica (on the song "Nothing Else Matters" and their live album, S&M ), Def Leppard, Herbie Hancock, Tim Curry, The Cranberries, Bryan Adams, Jim Croce, Coldplay, Sting, Guns N' Roses (on their performance of "November Rain" on the MTV Video Music Awards) and Kate Bush. For Bush, Kamen delivered an orchestral backing for "Moments of Pleasure" from The Red Shoes album, substantially building upon a simple piano theme Bush had composed. In this instance and many others, he conducted the orchestra personally for the recording. In 1984, two years after moving to London, [6] Kamen had similarly heightened the effect of a pop recording for the Eurythmics "Here Comes the Rain Again", that score relying as much on his compositional skills as his arranging talents.

In 1990, Kamen joined many other guests for Roger Waters' performance of The Wall in Berlin, and led the National Philharmonic Orchestra during the 24 Nights sessions with Eric Clapton the following year.

Lenny Kravitz recorded a cover of "Fields of Joy", a song co-written by Kamen and Hal Fredricks, on his 1991 CD Mama Said .

In 2002, Kamen took part in the Concert for George as strings conductor.

Kamen had a successful partnership with Bryan Adams and "Mutt" Lange composing scores and songs. The ballad "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" for the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was the number one song that year worldwide. Other songs were "All for Love" for the movie The Three Musketeers in 1993, and "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" the song from the film Don Juan DeMarco , in 1994. [1]

Film and television

Kamen wrote eleven ballets, a saxophone concerto and an electric guitar concerto (with Japanese guitarist Tomoyasu Hotei as a soloist, though originally performed by Eric Clapton). Additionally, he wrote a commissioned work, "Quintet", for the Canadian Brass. He also provided scores for the films The Dead Zone , For Queen and Country , Polyester , Brazil , Someone To Watch Over Me , The Adventures of Baron Munchausen , The Three Musketeers , Highlander , X-Men , Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves , Licence to Kill, the Lethal Weapon series, the first three films of the Die Hard series, Mr. Holland's Opus , The Iron Giant , Splitting Heirs , Frequency and many others. He also scored both the From the Earth to the Moon and Band of Brothers series on HBO. Trailers for the 2007 release Bee Movie , the 2008 release Nim's Island , the 2008 release WALL-E , and the 2014 release Mr. Peabody & Sherman featured Kamen's "Central Services / The Office" from his score to Brazil (1985). [1]

In television, Kamen composed music for two series of The Manageress produced by Glenn Wilhide, at Zed Productions for Channel 4, and Joan Bakewell's interview series Memento in 1993, also at Zed Productions for Channel 4, but perhaps his best known work was on the 1985 BBC Television serial Edge of Darkness , on which he collaborated with Eric Clapton to write the score. The pair were awarded with a British Academy Television Award for Best Original Television Music for their work and performed the main movie theme with the National Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall of London in 1990 and 1991. In 1994, Kamen conducted an orchestration of the Who's music for Roger Daltrey's 50th birthday concert series entitled A Celebration: The Music of Pete Townshend and The Who which was subsequently released on CD and DVD.

Kamen was nominated for two Academy Awards and won three Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes, two Ivor Novello Awards, an Annie Award, and an Emmy.

Later years

His involvement with Mr. Holland's Opus , a film about a frustrated composer who finds fulfillment as a high school music teacher, led Kamen to create The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation in 1996. The foundation supports music education through the donation of new and refurbished musical instruments to underserved school and community music programs and individual students in the United States. In 2005 the foundation created an emergency fund for schools and students affected by Hurricane Katrina.

In 1998, Kamen composed and conducted the soundtrack for What Dreams May Come . Produced by James Seymour Brett, the score was initially set to be composed by Ennio Morricone. The Italian composer had initially completed and recorded a full score for the film but, after editorial changes were made, his score was rejected and Kamen was hired in his place. Short on time, Kamen took the song "Beside You" from his New York Rock Ensemble's album Roll Over and adapted it as the movie's main musical theme. [7]

Between April 21 and 22, 1999, Kamen worked with the heavy metal band Metallica, along with The San Francisco Symphony, to record a two-day concert that was held at The Berkeley Community Theatre in Berkeley, California. The concert performance, titled S&M by Metallica, which is an acronym for "Symphony and Metallica", referencing the collaboration of the two artists, was released on November 23, 1999, on CD, DVD, and VHS formats, debuting at #2 on the Billboard 200, subsequently reaching multi-platinum status by 2001. Later that year, Kamen and Metallica won a Grammy Award For Best Rock Instrumental Performance for the S&M track titled "The Call Of Ktulu". [8]

In 2001 and 2002, Kamen performed with David Gilmour at Gilmour's semi-unplugged shows at the Royal Festival Hall, playing piano and cor anglais. The 2001 concert and highlights from 2002 were released on DVD as David Gilmour in Concert .

In 2002, Kamen, along with Julian Lloyd Webber, Dame Evelyn Glennie, and Sir James Galway launched the Music Education Consortium in the UK. The consortium's efforts led to the injection of £332 million for music education in the UK. He was also commissioned to write a piece for the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

His last recorded work appeared on Bryan Adams's album Room Service where he played the oboe and wrote the orchestration to "I Was Only Dreamin'". Kamen had also completed the charts for accompaniment to two songs on Kate Bush's album Aerial , which was released in April 2005.

Health and death

Kamen was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1997. He died in London, England, from a heart attack on November 18, 2003, at age 55. [4]


In 2004, when Annie Lennox accepted the Academy Award for Best Original Song (for "Into the West" from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King ), she dedicated her achievement to the memory of Kamen. [9]

The 2004 films Boo, Zino & the Snurks (also known as Back to Gaya) and First Daughter , which Kamen was working on at the time of his death, were dedicated to his memory.

David Gilmour's 2006 album On an Island was dedicated to the memory of Kamen and longtime Pink Floyd manager Steve O'Rourke.

Film scores

1976 The Next Man Richard C. Sarafian Allied Artists Pictures Corporation
1977 Stunts Mark L. Lester New Line Cinema
1980 S*H*E Robert Michael LewisA.E.C. Filmproduktions
1981 Venom Piers Haggard Paramount Pictures
1982 Pink Floyd – The Wall Alan Parker
Gerald Scarfe
Goldcrest Film International
Collaboration with Pink Floyd and Bob Ezrin.
1983 The Dead Zone David Cronenberg Lorimar Film Entertainment
Paramount Pictures (US/Canada)
De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (International)
Soundtrack released by Milan Records. Performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra and recorded at EMI Studio, London.
1985 Brazil Terry Gilliam Embassy Pictures
Columbia Pictures
Performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra.
Soundtrack released by Milan Records.
Lifeforce Tobe Hooper Cannon Films
TriStar Pictures
Additional music only; Majority of score by Henry Mancini.
Expanded score released by BSX Records.
Edge of Darkness Martin Campbell BBC TV miniseries.
Composed with Eric Clapton.
Won a BAFTA Award for Best Original Television Score.
1986 Highlander Russell Mulcahy Cannon Films
20th Century Fox (US)
Thorn EMI Screen Entertainment (International)
Performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra.
Most of the movie's songs are featured on the Queen album A Kind of Magic . No official soundtrack was released, but bootleg releases of the score exist, and some cues are included in the Highlander: The Scores compilation.
Mona Lisa Neil Jordan HandMade Films
Island Pictures
Soundtrack released by Columbia Music.
Amazing Stories Martin Scorsese Amblin Entertainment
Universal Television
TV series.
Episode "Mirror, Mirror" only.
1987 Lethal Weapon Richard Donner Silver Pictures
Warner Bros.
Composed with Eric Clapton and David Sanborn.
Soundtrack released by Warner Bros. Records.
Rita, Sue and Bob Too Alan Clarke Channel 4 Soundtrack released by Ariola Records
Adventures in Babysitting Chris Columbus Touchstone Pictures
Silver Screen Patterns III
Suspect Peter Yates TriStar PicturesSoundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande.
Someone to Watch Over Me Ridley Scott Columbia Pictures
1988 Die Hard John McTiernan Silver Pictures
Gordon Company
20th Century Fox
Performed by the Hollywood Studio Symphony.
Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande in 2002.
The Raggedy Rawney Bob Hoskins HandMade Films
Soundtrack released by Silva Screen.
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen Terry Gilliam Allied Filmmakers
Columbia Pictures
Soundtrack released by Warner Bros. Records
Crusoe Caleb Deschanel Island PicturesLimited Edition Soundtrack released by Quartet Records in 2013 (1000 copies).
1989 Renegades Jack Sholder Morgan Creek Productions
Interscope Communications
Universal Pictures
Soundtrack released by Intrada Records.
Licence to Kill John Glen Eon Productions
United Artists
Performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra.
Soundtrack released by MCA Records
Road House Rowdy Herrington Silver Pictures
United Artists
Soundtrack released by Intrada Records.
Lethal Weapon 2 Richard Donner Silver Pictures
Warner Bros.
Composed with Eric Clapton and David Sanborn.
Soundtrack released by Warner Bros. Records.
1990 Cold Dog Soup Alan Metter HandMade Films
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Die Hard 2 Renny Harlin Silver Pictures
Gordon Company
20th Century Fox
Performed by the Los Angeles Motion Picture All-Stars Orchestra.
Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande.
The Krays Peter Medak Parkfield Entertainment
Rank Film Distributors
Soundtrack released by Parkfield Music.
1991 Nothing but Trouble Dan Aykroyd Warner Bros.
Hudson Hawk Michael Lehmann Silver Pictures
TriStar Pictures
Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Kevin Reynolds Morgan Creek Productions
Warner Bros.
The score was orchestrated by a record-breaking total of 13 people.
Soundtrack released by Polydor Records.
Nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Score
The song "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" was also nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.
Company Business Nicholas Meyer Metro-Goldwyn-MayerSoundtrack released by Intrada Records.
Let Him Have It Peter MedakBritish Screen ProductionsSoundtrack released by Virgin Records.
The Last Boy Scout Tony Scott Geffen Pictures
Silver Pictures
Warner Bros.
Soundtrack released by La-La Land Records.
1992 Two-Fisted Tales Richard Donner
Tom Holland
Robert Zemeckis
Carolco Pictures Television film.
Segment "Showdown".
Tales from the Crypt various Home Box Office TV series.
4 episodes.
Shining Through David Seltzer 20th Century FoxSoundtrack released by RCA.
Lethal Weapon 3 Richard DonnerSilver Pictures
Warner Bros.
Composed with Eric Clapton and David Sanborn.
Soundtrack released by Warner Bros. Records
Blue Ice Russell MulcahyM&M Productions
1993 Splitting Heirs Robert Young Universal Pictures (US/Canada)
United International Pictures (International)
Last Action Hero John McTiernanColumbia Pictures Soundtrack released by Columbia Music.
Wilder Napalm Glenn Gordon Caron TriStar Pictures
The Three Musketeers Stephen Herek Walt Disney Pictures
Caravan Pictures
Soundtrack released by Walt Disney Records.
1994 Don Juan DeMarco Jeremy Leven New Line Cinema Performed by the London Metropolitan Orchestra.
Soundtrack released by A&M Records.
Nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Score.
The song "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman ?" was also nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.
1995 Circle of Friends Pat O'Connor Savoy Pictures
Cineplex Odeon Films
The Rank Organisation
Soundtrack released by Warner Bros. Records.
Die Hard with a Vengeance John McTiernan Cinergi Pictures
20th Century Fox (US/Japan)
Touchstone Pictures (International)
Soundtrack released by RCA Victor.
The First 100 Years: A Celebration of American Movies Chuck Workman American Film Institute (AFI)
Silver Pictures
Home Box Office
Stonewall Nigel Finch Strand Releasing
Mr. Holland's Opus Stephen Herek PolyGram Filmed Entertainment
Interscope Communications
Hollywood Pictures (US/Canada)
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (International)
Performed by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and the London Metropolitan Orchestra.
Soundtrack released by Decca Records.
1996 Jack Francis Ford Coppola Hollywood Pictures
American Zoetrope

Great Oaks Entertainment

Soundtrack released by Hollywood Records.
101 Dalmatians Stephen HerekWalt Disney Pictures
Great Oaks Productions
Soundtrack released by Walt Disney Records.
1997 Inventing the Abbotts Pat O'Connor Fox 2000 Pictures
Imagine Entertainment
20th Century Fox
The Heart SurgeonAudrey CookeBBCTV movie.
Remember Me? Nick Hurran Talisman Productions
Channel Four Films
Event Horizon Paul W. S. Anderson Golar Productions
Impact Pictures
Paramount Pictures
Collaboration with Orbital. Performed by the London Metropolitan Orchestra.
Soundtrack released by London Records.
The Winter Guest Alan Rickman Capitol Films
Fine Line Features
Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande.
1998 The Avengers Jeremiah S. Chechik Warner Bros.Rejected score due to last-minute re-editing. Replaced by Joel McNeely.
From the Earth to the Moon variousHome Box OfficeTV series
3 episodes.
Nominated for an Emmy Award.
Lethal Weapon 4 Richard DonnerSilver Pictures
Warner Bros.
Composed with Eric Clapton and David Sanborn.
Soundtrack released by La-Land Records
What Dreams May Come Vincent Ward Interscope Communications
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment (through Universal Pictures)
Performed by the London Metropolitan Orchestra.
Soundtrack released by Decca Records.
1999 The Iron Giant Brad Bird Warner Bros. Feature Animation
Warner Bros.
His first score for an animated movie.
Performed by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.
Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande.
2000 Frequency Gregory Hoblit New Line Cinema
X-Men Bryan Singer Marvel Entertainment Group
20th Century Fox
Soundtrack released by Decca Records.
2001 Band of Brothers variousHome Box OfficeTV miniseries.
Soundtrack released by Sony Classical
2003 Open Range Kevin Costner Beacon Pictures
Touchstone Pictures
Performed by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.
Soundtrack released by Hollywood Records.
2004 Against the Ropes Charles S. Dutton Paramount PicturesPosthumous release
Back to Gaya Leonard Fritz Krawinkel
Holger Tappe
Ambient Entertainment
Warner Bros. (Germany)
Entertainment Film Distributors (United Kingdom)
First Look International (United States)
Posthumous release
His second and final score for an animated movie.
First Daughter Forest Whitaker Regency Enterprises
New Regency
Davis Entertainment
20th Century Fox
Posthumous release, Blake Neely completed the remaining score.

Concert works

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