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Michael Lang (musician)

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Michael Lang
Birth nameMichael Herbert Lang[1][2]
Also known asMichael Anthony Lang[1]
Born(1941-12-10)December 10, 1941
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
DiedAugust 5, 2022(2022-08-05) (aged 80)
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • Piano, electric piano, organ, synthesizers, keyboards
Years active1964–2022

Michael Anthony Lang (born Michael Herbert Lang; December 10, 1941 – August 5, 2022) was an American pianist and composer, who was recognized for his highly prolific career as a pianist on more than 2500 film scores.

Early life and career[edit]

Lang was one of two sons born to publicists Jennings Lang and Flora Pam Friedheim.[1][3][4][a] He was also raised in part by his stepmother, singer Monica Lewis, beginning in 1956, four years after the premature death of his birth mother.[6][3] Lang obtained a bachelor of music at the University of Michigan in 1963, and studied under Leonard Stein, George Tremblay, Pearl Kaufman, and Lalo Schifrin.

Lang spent several decades as one of the premier musical talents in Los Angeles. He was well versed in various music forms, including jazz, classical, pop and R&B. He was both a freelance jazz musician and sought-after studio musician, with a career spanning records, motion pictures and television. A three-time winner of the "MVP" Grammy award from NARAS and recipient of numerous Gold Records, Lang was conversant with many music idioms and forms. This versatility enabled him to build career as an accompanist for a large body of artists including Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Vince Gill, In Sync, Milt Jackson, Lee Konitz, Diana Krall, John Lennon, Arturo Sandoval, Barbra Streisand, Josh Groban, and Frank Zappa. He also played with some of the biggest names in jazz, such as Lee Ritenour, Oliver Nelson, Bud Shank, Don Ellis, Shelly Manne, and Stan Kenton.

He recorded more than 2,500 scores, working with virtually every major film composer including John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, James Newton Howard, Henry Mancini, John Barry, Elmer Bernstein, John Debney, Michael Kamen, Hans Zimmer, with numerous screen credits for solo appearances. He premiered jazz piano concerti written especially for him by Byron Olson and Brad Dechter as well as a piano work by Kevin Kaska written for him and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Lang wrote songs for jazz notables including Stan Getz, Herb Alpert, and Dave Grusin and recorded a jazz CD entitled Days of Wine and Roses: The Classic Songs of Henry Mancini.

Lang's motion picture credits include: Oblivion, Dreamer, As Good As It Gets, The Edge, Mr. Holland's Opus, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon, Memoirs Of A Geisha, A Dog Year, Seven Pounds, The Day the Earth Stood Still, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, Bedtime Stories, Public Enemies, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Hannah Montana: The Movie, A Thousand Words, The Forlorn, They Came from Upstairs, A League of Their Own, The Russia House, Arachnophobia, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Black Sunday, The Towering Inferno, The Paper Chase, The Poseidon Adventure, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Lang recorded numerous albums with Barbra Streisand, Vanessa Williams, Russell Watson, and Michael Bolton. His television work includes The Simpsons, Family Guy, Privileged, American Dad, Orville, and The Secret Life of the American Teenager.

Selective discography[edit]

With Robbie Williams

With John Lennon

With Sarah Vaughan

With Dusty Springfield

  • Cameo (ABC Records, 1973)

With Solomon Burke

  • Like a Fire (Shout! Factory, 2008)

With Tom Waits

With Peggy Lee

With José Feliciano

  • José Feliciano (Motown, 1981)

With Vince Gill

With Bette Midler

With Kenny Rogers

With Aretha Franklin

With Willie Nelson

With Natalie Cole

With Amy Grant

With Paul Anka

  • Rock Swings (Verve, 2005)
  • Songs Of December (Decca Records, 2012)

With Melissa Manchester

  • If My Heart Had Wings (Atlantic Records, 1995)

With Neil Diamond

With Michael Bolton

With Barry Manilow

With Carole Bayer Sager

  • Sometimes Late at Night (The Boardwalk Entertainment, 1981)

With Barbra Streisand


  1. ^ The niece and erstwhile manager of comedian Hugh Herbert, Friedheim had been known professionally as Flora Pam.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Burlingame, Jon (August 5, 2022). "Mike Lang, Leading Jazz and Studio Pianist, Dies at 80". Variety. "He was born Michael Herbert Lang on Dec. 10, 1941, in Los Angeles (but changed his name, many years later, to Michael Anthony Lang), the son of Jennings Lang, an agent who later became a producer of such Universal films as 'Earthquake' and 'Airport 1975.'" Retrieved August 5, 2022.
  2. ^ "California Birth Index, 1905–1995," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V2QR-39S : November 27, 2014), Michael Herbert Lang, December 10, 1941; citing Los Angeles, California, United States, Department of Health Services, Vital Statistics Department, Sacramento.
  3. ^ a b Parsons, Louella O. "Death Takes Wife of Jenning Lang". The San Francisco Examiner. October 23, 1952. p. 14. "Mrs. Lang, the former Flora Pam Friedheim, was born in Memphis, Tenn., on October 27, 1911. She and Lang were married in Las Vegas on September 6, 1940. She leaves two little boys, Bobby, age 11, and Mike, age 6." Retrieved August 5, 2022.
  4. ^ Parsons, Louella O. (September 8, 1940) "Movie Gossip for Brickwalk Fans". Albuquerque Journal. p. 6. "Hugh Herbert's niece, Flora Pam, of the Howard Lang office, and Jennings Lang, ditto, were married in Tia Juana Friday." Retrieved August 5, 2022.
  5. ^ "Comedian Seeks $67,500 Damages". The Daily Clintonian. April 24, 1940. p. 4. "Seeking $67,500 damages for injuries he allegedly received in an automobile accident in December 1938, film comic Hugh Herbert is shown in Los Angeles court with his niece and manager, Flora Pam." Retrieved August 5, 2022.
  6. ^ Oliver, Myrna (May 31, 1996). "Jennings Lang: Produced 'Earthquake,' 'Airport' Movies". The Los Angeles Times. p. A30. "In 1956, Lang married singer Monica Lewis, who appeared in several of his films including 'Earthquake' and the 1985 'Stick' with Burt Reynolds and Candice Bergen. In addition to Lewis, Lang is survived by their son Rocky; two sons from a previous marriage, Robert and Michael, and three grandchildren." Retrieved August 5, 2022.

External links[edit]