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Lee Michaels

One of the most interesting second-division California psychedelic musicians, keyboardist Lee Michaels was one of the most soulful white vocalists of the late '60s and early '70s. Between 1968 and 1972, he released half a dozen accomplished albums on A&M that encompassed baroque psychedelic pop and gritty white (sometimes gospel-ish) R&B with equal facility. A capable songwriter, Michaels was blessed with an astonishing upper range, occasionally letting loose some thrilling funky wails. In 1971, he landed a surprise Top Ten single with "Do You Know What I Mean," one of the best and funkiest AM hits of the early '70s.

But Michaels was really much more of an album-oriented artist, from the time he began recording in the late '60s. Michaels started playing music in Southern California, where he was in a band with future members of Moby Grape, the Turtles, and Canned Heat. By the time he signed to A&M, however, he'd moved to San Francisco, joining the management stable of Matthew Katz (which also included, at various times, Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, and It's a Beautiful Day). Michaels was unusual for a San Francisco act in that he relied mostly on an organ-based sound, especially after the first pair of albums, when for a time he played (live and in the studio) with the mammoth drummer "Frosty" as his only accompanist.

"Do You Know What I Mean," ironically, was a throwaway tune that Michaels wrote hurriedly. Though Lee himself didn't think much of it, the song was a first-rate blast of blue-eyed soul; around this time, the gospel influence that had often informed his sound came to the fore. His albums in the mid-'70s for Columbia, however, were both critical and commercial disappointments. Michaels moved to Hawaii for an extended retirement from the music business. In the early '80s he announced the forthcoming independent release of a new solo album entitled Absolute Lee, which finally saw distribution through One Way Records in 1996; however, little has been heard from him since. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi
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Comments

keithincapit o l a
I heard several times that one of his last gigs he had his amps cranked way up and ran off the stage in the middle of a song holding his ears. They said that he blew out bot ear drums. That was that last time people heard from him And then I heard that he came out with an album where he played just a guitar and didn't go over very well. Anyone else heard those stories and if there true? You know how rumors are half way true if you exclude 2/3 of the story.
Lee Michaels played in San Berdoo, CA often in the late 60's-early 70's. He had a strong following and was known to put on a great show. That city was a backwater to some (and is a disaster zone now) but the Rolling Stones opened up their very first US Tour at the historic Swing Auditorium. I saw many legendary groups there during that period.
You should get and every thing that Lee Michaels recorded .
i remember lee playing in the village in nyc when a band of friends were going to the Fillmore east in the late 60s early 70s!! wow what fun!!!!
We use to follow him where ever he played in SoCal, Loved him!!
ccunnington1 5
a neighbor who was a few years older than me played me the Lee Michaels album.I bought it, still have it and even though Black Sabbath is my favorite band the first side of that album ( my Dad being a drummer) is still some of the best music I have ever heard. 55 now with 4 kids when the house is empty I go straight for that CD and crank it up!
The sound of him and Frosty filled the auditorium like nothing else. Frosty performed the most amzing drum solo using only his hands.
rmseagle
i would love hear something from him in the late '60's
Great organists, the dude was funky.
pefrmpa
loved him in the 70's and still love him
Really miss him...
fireheart
Lee! Com'on back my man and bring the rockinn' music back with you!
patdafatcat
lee,wish you were on tour again
Lee's the Man!
rmeadows41
It was 1970 and I was in Viet Nam. I was introduced to Lee's music by some guys from California. When I got out of the service in 71, I saw him in concert in Iowa. No chairs. Everyone on the floor. Drugs abounding and passing along. Lee himself was so ripped, he would laugh and admit he forgot the words and the audience would sing them out! We all loved his music very much. His music was one example of what was right during those turbulent years.
All Hail Lee Michaels!!
dbphoto123
I did hear him live and it was awesome! I've been a fan ever since.
Also like Dave Mason and saw him in concert. The 60 and 70's music is still some of the best!!
Wow! What can I say about Lee Michaels - The first time I heard Lee was on his 1969 "Lee Michaels" album. I remember hearing his version of "Stormy Monday" - His first notes on the Hammond B-3 organ were so intense & dramatic. It gave me goose bumps. I became an instant fan. I'm just sorry I didn't get to hear him live.

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