Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Michael Been of The Call Passes On

Michael Been, leader and founding member of The Call, passed on August 19 at the age of 60. The cause was a heart attack.

Michael Been was born on March 17, 1950 in Oklahoma City. He started playing guitar as a child. By age 7 he was performing at county fairs and on a local TV show called Big Red Shindig. His family eventually moved to Chicago. While still in Chicago he was a member of the band Aorta. Betwen 1969 and 1971 he was a member of Lovecraft, the final incarnation of psychedelic band H. P. Lovecraft. In1980 he formed The Call with Scott Musick (also originally from Oklahoma), and Tom Ferrier. Signed to a recording contract, The Call released their first album in 1982. Between 1982 and 2000 they released seven studio albums, one greatest hits album, and one live album. Meeting with little success initially, The Call had a hit with the album Let the Day Begin in 1989 and the song of the same title.

In the late Eighties Mr. Been toured with actor Harry Dean Stanton, whom he had met on the set of The Last Temptation of Christ. In 1992 he composed music for Paul Schrader's film Light Sleeper. In 1994 he released a solo album, On the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough. Michael Been also appeared in the film The Last Temptation of Christ as the apostle John.

Michael Been was certainly a talented singer and songwriter. Indeed, even though The Call was formed in California, to me their songs sounded more like the Old West. They had more to do with the mountains of Colorado and the plains of Oklahoma than beaches and sun drenched highways. Quite simply, as a singer and songwriter, Michael Been was the musical equivalent of John Ford, right down to a nearly spiritual, metaphysical element to all of his work. Michael Been and The Call were then unique. There was no other singer or songwriter like him.

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