Friday, November 18, 2005

In memory of Michael Kamen

Two years ago today, on Nov. 18, 2003, I received the shocking news that Michael Kamen had passed away from a heart attack at the age of 55. I was devastated. I would like to take a moment to remember him and perhaps introduce someone new to my hero. Here's what I wrote of him on my web site:

Remember when you were little? You looked up to one person who was either already long gone or was someone you idolized so much that you never thought you would ever get to meet him or her. Well, for me, this person was Michael Kamen. He was the genius composer whose unique sound elevated movies ranging from Die Hard to Lethal Weapon, Robin Hood, Three Musketeers, Don Juan De Marco, Highlander, Brazil, Mr. Holland's Opus, and countless others. He was also a master at harmoniously colliding the world of the orchestra with the world of rock n' roll. He'd worked with everyone from Eric Clapton to Sting, Pink Floyd, Bryan Adams, Metallica, Pavarotti, and Bob Dylan to name just a few.

Michael Kamen was not only my hero, but he was also my dear friend. Before I came to know him in person, he was my dear friend through his music. His Saxophone Concerto and various film scores spoke to me on a spiritual level. We had a higher connection through music. So one day in 1996 I decided to write him a fan letter. Two months later, my phone rang and the voice said "Hi Amin. It's Michael Kamen." This is the short version of the story. Here was this god of music calling little me to tell me that my letter moved him.

Here was my hero, who to me lived somewhere up in the clouds, not down here on this he was calling me to say hello. He invited me to visit him in London where he was recording the opening music for the Olympics at Air Lyndhurst studios. From that day on we became friends, often catching up on the phone and via e-mail, and whenever I had the chance I would go to see him in concert. The last time I saw him was when I visited him at his home in London in 2001. He took me for a ride to show me his new toy, a classic 1940's handmade car. And in our last conversation in Sept. 2003, he was excited as he was just starting work on his "Ode to Peace". In this symphony, he would feature the voices of Israeli and Palestinian children singing together with a massive orchestra and choir about forgiveness. Michael passed away on November 18, 2003 of heart-failure after a 6-year battle with Multiple Sclerosis.

What I want to leave you with is this memory of Michael Kamen. He was a man who would walk into a room and I swear you could feel his glow. He infected the people around him with happiness. His smile radiated genuine love for life and love for people. And within seconds he would break out into telling you funny stories. He always made people laugh. For that too, he was my hero.

Whenever I am faced with a tough decision, I ask myself "What would Michael do?" Now he does live up in the clouds, yet on this earth he is immortal. His timeless music will live forever and carry his voice to future generations for hundreds of years. But it's a blessing for me that this legend was my friend.


Anonymous hareega said...

Alla yerhamo,
Heroes don't die, they live forever

8:46 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

amin that was such a touching post.

9:19 PM  
Blogger Amin Matalqa said...

They do live forever, hareega. Thanks Linda. I think I wrote "three years" I meant to say "two years".

8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a lovely way for you to tell others about Michael. You must have been special to him as well.

Bless you

11:25 PM  

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