This past Monday, April 15th, would’ve been Michael Kamen’s 65th birthday if he’d still been with us. Well, he’s still with me. Last night I went for a long walk down the streets of LA and I put on one of my all-time favorite pieces of music. A piece that is so good, it’s almost sacred. This is the holy grail of concertos, Michael Kamen’s Concerto for Electric Guitar, which he wrote for Eric Clapton in 1990 and performed live on their 24 Nights tour with the National Philharmonic Orchestra.
Tragically, before they could record it in a studio, Clapton’s 4 year old boy Conor fell to his death from the window of a 53rd floor suite he was staying at in New York. Clapton put his electric guitar away and only sang the blues after that. And they never recorded the concerto properly in a studio.
In September 2003, just a couple of months before Michael passed away, I spoke with him on the phone, and he said they were going to get back together, he and Eric, and finally record the concerto properly (Michael had done a great but different recording with Japanese guitarist, Hotei, and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra in 1997). The world lost Michael too soon. Way too soon. His unique musical voice was a gift that only a handful of Hollywood composers possess.
To me, the Concerto for Electric Guitar, as performed by Eric Clapton in this live recording, the final night of the tour, is on par with Beethoven’s 3rd, or 9th. It’s on par with Rachmaninoff’s 3rd. And I don’t say this lightly. This is one of THE GREATEST pieces of music ever written. The emotional arc contained within the journey of these three movements is so powerful and deep that I hope you will only listen to it actively (not as background music while you’re checking facebook). Put this on your ipod and take a walk in the city, or blast it at home in a dark room where your senses are only tuned in to your ears and heart. Or take it with you to the gym and see how you feel when you go on that run. It is an emotional journey to bliss! This is Michael Kamen’s greatest achievement, and I want to share this very rare recording with everyone in the world.