BMI Mourns Loss of Composer Michael Kamen

Posted in News on November 18, 2003

World-renowned BMI composer Michael Kamen died yesterday (11/18) of an apparent heart attack at his home in London. He was 55.

Kamen, who was considered a visionary for skillfully fusing classical music with rock and roll, did orchestrations for a wide range of artists including Aerosmith, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Queen, Alice in Chains and David Sanborn. Among his most famous collaborations was the orchestral arrangements on Pink Floyd's 1979 classic album The Wall. He also conducted, orchestrated and arranged the multiplatinum CD, Metallica With The San Francisco Symphony, and won a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for the metal band's song, "The Call of Ktulu."


The versatile composer/arranger/conductor received numerous industry and BMI awards throughout his prolific career, including his first Grammy in 1992 for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for the music to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. The movie's theme song by Bryan Adams, "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You," also earned Kamen three BMI Pop Awards (1991, 1992, 1993), a BMI Film/TV Award in 1992 for Most Performed Song from a Motion Picture and a BMI Million-Air for over four million radio performances. Kamen 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. Inspired by the movie, Kamen established the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation in 1997 to raise money to make musical instruments available to needy children. The movie also earned him a BMI Film/TV Award.

BMI's Doreen Ringer Ross and Frances Preston congratulate Richard Kirk Award winner Michael Kamen at the 1993 BMI Film/TV Awards ceremony

Other BMI Awards include several Film/TV Awards for the music to the Die Hard and Lethal Weapon movies, as well as Pop, Film/TV and Million-Air Awards for "All For Love" from The Three Musketeers and "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman" from Don Juan De Marco. In addition, Kamen was honored by BMI in 1993 with the Richard Kirk Award for Outstanding Career Achievement. Named after past BMI Vice President Richard Kirk, the prestigious award is given annually to the composer who has made significant contributions to film and TV music. He also received the Sterling Circle Award that year for having been with the performing rights organization for 25 years.

Born in New York in 1948, Kamen began playing piano at the age of two. He got his start as a folk/blues singer in a jug band and went on to study oboe at the Juilliard School of Music before turning to composition. He toured with David Bowie in the early 70's and scored his first film, The Next Man (starring Sean Connery), in 1976. Kamen wrote the music to more than 80 films and TV shows and received multiple Oscar, Golden Globe and Emmy nominations.

Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis six years ago, he did not go public with his illness until this past September when he was honored with the Dorothy Corwin Spirit of Life Award by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Kamen's illness did not slow him down, however. In recent years, he wrote and directed music for the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympics and performed at the Grammy Awards with Coldplay and the New York Philharmonic. Last year, Kamen served as musical director for the Queen's Golden Jubilee at Buckingham Palace.

Kamen is survived by his wife, two daughters, three brothers and his father.

Michael Kamen's BMI Awards:

Lethal Weapon
1988 Film/TV Award

Die Hard
1989 Film/TV Award

Lethal Weapon II
1990 Film/TV Award

Die Hard 2: Die Harder
1991 Film/TV Award

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
1992 Film/TV Award

"(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" (from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves)
1991, 1992, 1993 Pop Award
1992 Film/TV Award for Most Performed Song from a Film

Lethal Weapon 3
1993 Film/TV Award

"All For Love" (from The Three Musketeers)
1994 Pop Award
1995 Film/TV Award for Most Performed Song from a Film

Die Hard with a Vengeance
1996 Film/TV Award

Mr. Holland's Opus
1996 Film/TV Award

"Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman" (from Don Juan De Marco)
1995, 1996 Pop Award
1996 Film/TV Award for Most Performed Song from a Film

101 Dalmatians
1997 Film/TV Award

Lethal Weapon 4
1999 Film/TV Award

2001 Film/TV Award

Band of Brothers
2002 Cable Award

Special Awards
Richard Kirk Award
Sterling Circle Award

BMI Salute to our Olympians

BMI Olympic Flame Award


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