It’s with a profound sense of sadness and the heaviest of hearts that the Society of Composers & Lyricists mourns the passing of our dear friend and colleague, Mike Lang.
A fixture in recording studios and on soundstages for over six decades, he played a myriad of keyboards on thousands of recordings and is arguably the most versatile pianist Hollywood has ever produced. His technique on the keys and taste in the notes he chose, were unparalleled. A fervent supporter of the SCL since its inception, Mike’s love of music and those who create it was apparent from the moment you began a conversation with him and his willingness to share his knowledge of repertoire, legendary. For any of our SCL members who may be unaware of Mike’s enormous legacy, please take a moment to read this appreciation of his career by music historian, Jon Burlingame.
On a personal note, Mike was a dear friend of mine for over 30 years, one of the first people I met when I moved here in 1990 and the sole musician on my first recording session in LA. His advice and support when I was starting out in this town were often the medicine I needed to lift me through some frustrating experiences like we all go through as we try to establish ourselves in this profession. At the SCL, he was always ready to help out whenever we needed to call upon his talents. Although attending as a guest at our inaugural SCL Awards in 2020, he immediately leaped into the breach at the eleventh hour to cover for our pianist who’d been struck down by the flu and, true to form, absolutely nailed it.
In 2014, when the SCL honored Ginny Mancini with a Lifetime Achievement Award, I asked Mike to play the title track from
“Days of Wine and Roses” his tribute album to the music of her husband, Henry. Of course, Mike said “yes” – his performance and accompanying anecdote one of those uniquely sublime moments that often happen at SCL events. Fortunately, for those who weren’t in the room, we have the video in our archives. So, if you click here and scroll in about 1 hour and 10 seconds, you’ll be able to relive the magic.
We’ll never know how many millions of people were touched by Mike’s music. But those of us who got to spend time with him know our lives were blessed.
Farewell old friend. Rest in peace, Mike.