Mike Melvoin

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Mike Melvoin
Birth nameMichael Melvoin
Born(1937-05-10)May 10, 1937
Oshkosh, Wisconsin, U.S.
DiedFebruary 22, 2012(2012-02-22) (aged 74)
Burbank, California
GenresJazz, rock, pop
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, arranger

Mike Melvoin (May 10, 1937 – February 22, 2012) was an American jazz pianist, composer, and arranger. He served as chairman and president of The Recording Academy and worked as a prolific studio musician, recording with Frank Sinatra, John Lennon, The Jackson 5, Natalie Cole, and The Beach Boys. Melvoin was nominated for the 2003 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo for "All or Nothing at All" from his album It's Always You.[1]


Melvoin was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and began playing the piano at the age of three. He studied English at Dartmouth College, graduating in 1959, but decided to pursue a career in music.[2] Melvoin, whose original family name was Mehlworm, was Jewish.[3] After moving to Los Angeles in 1961, he played with Frank Rosolino, Leroy Vinnegar, Gerald Wilson, Paul Horn, Terry Gibbs, Joe Williams, Peggy Lee and others. He released his debut album as a bandleader, Keys to Your Mind, in 1966 on Liberty Records. Melvoin played in clubs in Los Angeles, and accompanied singer Bill Henderson and played with Herb Ellis and Plas Johnson on Concord Jazz releases.

Melvoin worked extensively as a studio musician and was part of The Wrecking Crew, performing on the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds (1966), Frank Sinatra's That's Life (1966), the Jackson 5's ABC (1970), John Lennon's "Stand by Me" (1975), Tom Waits' Nighthawks at the Diner (1975), and Barbra Streisand's "Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born)" (1976). He worked in the early 1970s as a music director on The Partridge Family recordings, often playing keyboard, and also began composing for film and television including contributing scores to Fame and MacGyver.

His children, Wendy (of Prince's band The Revolution, and later of Wendy & Lisa), Susannah and Jonathan all became professional musicians.

Melvoin was the first active musician to serve as the head of NARAS. When NARAS introduced category changes to the Grammys in 2011, he opposed them.[4]

Melvoin died in Burbank, California, on February 22, 2012, of cancer, at age 74.[4]


As leader[edit]

  • Keys to Your Mind (Liberty, 1966)
  • Between the Two (Liberty, 1968)
  • The Plastic Cow Goes Moooooog (Dot, 1970)
  • Redeye (Voss, 1988)
  • The Capitol Sessions (Naim, 1999)
  • Oh Baby (City Light, 2002)
  • It's Always You (City Light, 2003)
  • Like Jazz (City Light, 2003)
  • Playing the Word (City Light, 2006)
  • You Know (City Light, 2006)

As backing musician[edit]

With Judy Collins

With Stan Getz

With Thelma Houston

With Lucio Battisti

With José Feliciano

  • Souled (RCA Victor, 1968)
  • 10 to 23 (RCA Victor, 1969)
  • And the Feeling's Good (RCA Victor, 1974)
  • Ya Soy Tuyo (RCA International, 1985)

With Milt Jackson

With Quincy Jones

With Peggy Lee

With Helen Reddy

With Natalie Cole

With Michael Bublé

With Oliver Nelson

With Johnny Rivers

  • Last Boogie In Paris (live) (Atlantic Records, 1974)
  • New Lovers and Old Friends (Epic Records, 1975)
  • Wild Night (United Artists Records, 1976)
  • Outside Help (Big Tree Records, 1977)

With Tim Buckley

With Joe Pass

With Barbra Streisand

With Kenny Rogers

With Boz Scaggs

With Rock Flowers

  • Rock Flowers (Wheel/RCA, 1971)
  • Naturally (Wheel/RCA, 1972)

With Barry Manilow

With Donovan

With Lalo Schifrin

With Juice Newton

With Bud Shank

With Gábor Szabó

With Leroy Vinnegar

With Tom Waits

With Paul Anka

  • The Music Man (United Artists Records, 1977)



  1. ^ Barker, Andrew (February 27, 2012). "Musician Mike Melvoin dies at 74". Variety. Retrieved February 29, 2012.
  2. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Mike Melvoin Biography". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 22, 2013.
  3. ^ Benarde, Scott R. (2003). Stars of David: Rock'n'roll's Jewish Stories. ISBN 9781584653035.
  4. ^ a b Heckman, Don (February 24, 2012). "Mike Melvoin dies at 74; studio musician, composer". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 29, 2012.

External links[edit]