Tribute to Michael Kamen

Michael Kamen was an American composer, arranger, and conductor. He is mostly remembered for his prolific film scoring career.

Michael Arnold Kamen was born on April 15, 1948 in New York City, New York to Saul and Helen Kamen. Kamen attended New York City’s High School of Music and Art, where he studied the piano and the oboe. Kamen then attended The Julliard School, where he expanded his interests to ballet.

As an oboe player, Kamen founded the classical fusion band called “New York Rock and Roll Ensemble” with Dorian Rudnytsky and Martin Fulterman. The band gave Kamen the exposure that he needed to succeed in the Rock and Roll World. Through the band, Kamen also gathered significant experience on session music. The band released five albums in all before it came under the attention of Leonard Bernstein, who invited the band to play for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

Kamen was highly successful as an arranger for many popular rock and roll bands, including “Pink Floyd”, “Metallica”, “Aerosmith”, “Eric Clapton”, “Bon Jovi”, “Rush” and “Bryan Adams”. Many of his works for popular music included orchestral backing music for bands. He is also exceptionally famous in the heavy metal industry due to his collaboration with Metallica and the San Francisco Orchestra for “Symphony and Metallica”, a live record which sold over eight million copies worldwide. His orchestral arrangement of Aerosmith’s “Dream On” for MTV is also exceptionally famous. Kamen also worked with ‘Queen’ for “Who Wants To Live Forever”. For Eric Clapton, he conducted the National Philharmonic Orchestra for the “24 Nights Sessions”. His contributions for Bryan Adams included work for the song “Everything I do, I do it For You”, which was one of Adams’s most famous and successful songs. He also worked with Adams for “All for Love” and “Have you Ever Really Loved a Woman”.

Kamen also had an outstanding film and television career. He started writing ballets almost immediately after the “New York Rock and Roll Ensemble” broke up in 1973, which number over ten in all. He also wrote a guitar concerto, for which he employed Tomoyasu Hotei for lead guitar. He wrote his first ever film score in 1981 for Piers Haggard’s “Venom”. His second score was for Pink Floyd’s musical titled “The Wall” in 1982. By 1987, Kamen was composing the scores to plenty of big budget movies, including the score to Ridley Scott’s “Someone to Watch Over Me” and David Cronenberg’s “The Dead Zone”. He also scored the incredibly famous “Lethal Weapons” series and the like-minded first three films of the “Die Hard” series. Other notable scores from Kamen’s repertoire include the score for the first “X-Men” movie in 2000, the score for “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” in 1991, the score for the incredibly famous Ted Hughes adaptation of “The Iron Giant” in 1999, and the score for the action fantasy “Highlander” in 1986.

Kamen won four Grammy Awards during his lifetime; he shared one award with Metallica for “Call of Ktulu”, which won the Best Rock Instrumental Performance in the year 2000. He also won one award with Bryan Adams for “Everything I do, I do it For You”.

Michael Kamen died in 2003 in London. His last recorded work was for Bryan Adam’s “I Was Only Dreamin”.