Michael Sembello

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Michael Sembello
Birth nameMichael Andrew Sembello
Born (1954-04-17) April 17, 1954 (age 64)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
GenresHi-NRG, new wave, synthpop, pop rock, R&B, soul, pop, funk
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active1975–present
LabelsWarner Bros., EMI, A&M
Associated actsStevie Wonder

Michael Andrew Sembello[1] (born April 17, 1954) is an American singer, guitarist, keyboardist, songwriter, composer and producer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Sembello was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his 1983 song "Maniac", which he sang and co-wrote. The song reached number-one in the United States[2] and featured in the Flashdance movie soundtrack.

He is the brother of songwriter and composer Danny Sembello.

Early life[edit]

Sembello was born and raised in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, a western suburb of Philadelphia.[citation needed]


Sembello began his career in music as a session musician, working as a guitarist. By age 17 he was working professionally with Stevie Wonder on electric and acoustic guitar as a studio player on Wonder's Fulfillingness' First Finale.[citation needed] He continued the same year, chosen as one of the core artists who worked on Songs in the Key of Life, an ambitious double album that took two years to create. He was credited as lead and rhythm guitarist on most of the tracks, and shares songwriting credit with Wonder on the song "Saturn".[citation needed]

Sembello wrote a song, "Carousel", which Michael Jackson recorded for his 1982 album Thriller, but it was replaced on the track list by "Human Nature".[3][4] The song was subsequently included as a bonus track on Thriller 25 - the 25th anniversary edition reissue of the album; the full version was later released on iTunes in 2013 as part of The Ultimate Fan Extras Collection. [5]

Sembello released his first solo album, Bossa Nova Hotel, in 1983. The song "Maniac" from that album, which he co-wrote with his keyboardist Dennis Matkosky, was selected for inclusion in the film Flashdance. "Maniac" was the second best charting song from the soundtrack (after the title track) and the ninth biggest single of 1983. That soundtrack won a Grammy Award in 1983 for Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special.[6]

Sembello produced guitarist Jennifer Batten's first solo album, Above Below and Beyond in 1992.[7] In 1994, he produced Argentine singer Valeria Lynch's album Caravana de Sueños (1994), and co-wrote the title song with Puerto Rican Wilkins Vélez.[citation needed]

Sembello's songs are featured in the films Cocoon, Independence Day, Gremlins, The Monster Squad and Summer Lovers. His song "Gravity" from the film Cocoon was accompanied by a music video directed by Cocoon director Ron Howard and included an appearance by Howard in a scripted fictional foreword to the video.[citation needed]

In 2008, Sembello worked with saxophonist Michael Lington on his album Heat, which was nominated as Jazztrax Album of the Year for 2008.[citation needed] Michael and his brother Danny Sembello penned three songs with Lington for the project.

Sembello has recorded his vocals in six languages.[citation needed] In May 2009, the album Moon Island was released on EMI Japan. The album consists of American pop songs given new arrangements with a strong Brazilian influence.



Year Album US
1983 Bossa Nova Hotel 80
1986 Without Walls
1992 Caravan of Dreams
1997 Backwards in Time
2002 Ancient Future
2003 The Lost Years


Year Song US




1982 "Summer Lovers" Summer Lovers
1983 "Maniac" 1 2 11 6 28 10 7 2 43 Bossa Nova Hotel
"Automatic Man" 34 49 66
1984 "Talk" 37
"Gremlins...Mega Madness" (from Gremlins) Gremlins
1985 "Gravity" (from Cocoon) Without Walls
1986 "Tear Down the Walls"
"Wonder Where You Are" 79
1992 "Heavy Weather" Caravan of Dreams
1995 "Reach for the Dream" non-album single
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Michael Sembello @Discogs.com Retrieved November 8, 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Michael Sembello > Chart History > Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  3. ^ Pirnia, Garin (May 7, 2012). "Human Nature". Rolling Stone.
  4. ^ Wheeler, Brad (May 20, 2014). "The maestro Quincy Jones and his singing Montreal protégé". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on October 12, 2018. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  5. ^ Recordings, Legacy (July 2, 2013). "Carousel". PR NewsWire.. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  6. ^ "Jackson Claims 8 Grammys". Times-News. February 29, 1984. Retrieved December 21, 2010.
  7. ^ Prato, Greg (December 30, 2003), "Jennifer Batten Biography", Allmusic.com, Rovi Corp, retrieved July 26, 2011
  8. ^ "Michael Sembello > Chart History > Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  9. ^ "Michael Sembello > Chart History > Adult Contemporary". Billboard. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  10. ^ "Michael Sembello > Chart History > Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs". Billboard. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  11. ^ Australian chart peaks:
  12. ^ "Ultratop > Michael Sembello in Ultratop Vlaanderen" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  13. ^ German singles chart peaks:
  14. ^ "The Irish Charts – All there is to know > Search results for 'Michael Sembello' (from irishcharts.ie)". Imgur.com (original source published by Fireball Media). Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  15. ^ "dutchcharts.nl > Michael Sembello in Dutch Charts" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  16. ^ "charts.org.nz > Michael Sembello in New Zealand Charts". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  17. ^ "hitparade.ch > Michael Sembello in der Schweizer Hitparade" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  18. ^ "Official Charts > Michael Sembello". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved October 1, 2016.

External links[edit]