Composer Michael Kamen dies at 55
Michael Kamen, the Grammy-winning and Oscar-nominated composer
who fused hard-rock riffs with classical styling in albums for Pink
Floyd and provided music for the "Lethal Weapon", "Die
Hard" movies," and scored the James Bond film "Licence
to Kill", has died at age 55.
Kamen collapsed in his London home on Tuesday after an apparent
heart attack, according to his Los Angeles-based publicist, Jeff
Kamen collaborated with a wide range of artists, from the London
Philharmonic to erosmith, Metallica and jazz saxophonist David Sanborn.
Although Kamen was classically trained and studied oboe at New
York's Julliard School, the composer's distinctive long, curly hair
and beard made him look more like a heavy-metal guitarist than a
He was known for combining those two sensibilities. Among his most
famous collaborations was on the orchestral arrangements in Pink
Floyd's 1979 album "The Wall." He also worked with the
band on the albums "The Final Cut" and "The Division
Kamen's most recent Grammy win came in 2001, when he shared the
award for best rock instrumental performance with Metallica for
conducting the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in the metal-rock
band's song "The Call of Ktulu."
He also won a Grammy in 1996 for best instrumental arrangement
with "An American Symphony," which he derived from his
work on the Richard Dreyfuss musical drama "Mr. Holland's Opus."
His first Grammy was in 1992 for best pop instrumental performance
for the theme music to "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves."
In "Mr. Holland's Opus," Dreyfuss ortrayed passionate
teacher who sacrificed his own ambitions to engage the imagination
of his students through music. Inspired by the movie, Kamen established
the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation in 1997 to raise money to make
musical instruments available to the nation's children.
Kamen worked with singer Bryan Adams to help craft the movie theme
songs (Everything I Do) I Do It For You" from "Robin Hood"
and "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman" from "Don
Juan DeMarco." He received Oscar nominations for co-writing
Kamen also collaborated with such pop, jazz and rock stars as Sting,
Rod Stewart, David Bowie and Eric Clapton.
Kamen was born in New York City in 1948. He started learning to
play the piano at thr age of 2 and later added the guitar, clarinet
and oboe. Among his parents' friends were the musicians Huddie Ledbetter
and Pete Seeger, and he grew up listening to recordings of music
by Bach and Gilbert and Sullivan.
Kamen played folk-blues in a jug band while simultaneously studying
oboe at Julliard, and later experimented with techno, disco and
rock while writing pure assical music for ballet performances.
Kamen is survived by his wife, two daughters, his father and three
Wednesday, November 19, 2003