Michael’s passing touched so many lives from all over the world, and all of you who have made your feelings heard on this web site are testimony to that fact. The news of Michael’s death spread quickly and it was not long before the family home was filled with friends and relatives all wishing to pay their respects to a man they loved so dearly.

Michael’s love for life and all things musical needed to be recognised and those closest to him quickly organised a memorial service to be held in a place that Michael would have called his place of worship: The Royal Academy of Music.

Michael would never have wanted a sombre memorial service - he would have insisted on a party instead, a celebration. Those involved managed to do just that. In just a few short days an event was created that illustrated the way in which Michael had lived his life doing exactly what he loved best, living!

Equal amounts of tears and laughter were provoked by a variety of friends and relatives' cherished anecdotes. They managed to raised our spirits, and remind us that our true host, Michael, might have departed from this world but he will never really leave us.

 

Dukes Hall, The Royal Academy of Music

 

Those able to attend included several colleagues and friends with whom Michael had worked closely over the years. Several paid tribute to their friend in their own way. The evening quickly read like the back of one of Michael’s albums. Annie Lennox performed 'All My Trials' by Joan Baez, one of Michael's favourite songs. This was followed by a moving and characteristically humorous speech by Alan Rickman. Bryan Adams sang ‘Everything I Do’ and David Gilmore sang ‘Wish You Were Here’. Simon Mulligan, along with musicians from the Royal Academy of Music, performed the theme from Band of Brothers.

As each piece of music ended there followed another insightful story told to us by those who knew Michael best. Michael’s three brothers each applauded him, making us laugh with stories of their upbringing. “Michael’s greatest work”, his two daughters Sasha and Zoë, fought back tears to thank their father and regale us with tales from their own childhood. But it was Michael’s father Saul who single handedly rounded the evening off with a speech that only a father could give, topped off with an Ode to Michael that he had written just the day before.

Michael may no longer be alive but the evening proved without a shadow of a doubt that he is most certainly not gone he will continue to live on in our hearts and minds, and his music, for ever.


We have been lucky enough to obtain both Alan Rickman’s speach and the ‘Ode To Michael’ written by his father Saul.


Michael,

Making music. Making Food. Making conversation. Making friends.
Sometimes all at once

I was in his house in LA one time. A table was set for eight. He had me chopping stuff. Without much warning ten extra people came in the door. I panicked. Michael didn’t. He laughed, welcomed them in, as I started redistributing the lettuce.
Suddenly a blind girl was singing, Michael was playing and his spirit filled the house. Like he’d willed it to. Like it has all this week.
Michael the magnet. The fulcrum. No sweat – somehow it would all be OK, and it always was. Your hair is in tufts and Michael just smiles. And smiles. And plays. And we fed the five thousand.

Family, friends, food, music.
Those were the instruments. He was the conductor.
It’s like there was an orchestra inside him and he led us from a question to an idea, from the kitchen to the harpsichord.
Always something to show you, something to listen to, something to talk about.
Like the newspaper said yesterday –
“a monumental ego but with total humility”.
He had the social conscience and he had fun.
He was a grown up and a child.
Who else would have conducted a three hour concert of his music with no interval and be ready for more as we earthlings ran to the bathroom.

I was working with Michael a couple of weeks ago as he scored a silent film I had brought to him.
A familiar scene. The film is playing on two screens. Time codes and flashing lights. It had started on a love scene. Michael is curved over the keyboard, lost in a slow and luscious melody, and I am wondering if I should point out that the bad guy came in the room three minutes ago.
Probably not.
It’ll be alright.

We need the Michael’s like we need air and water. It’s hard to trap them in words on a page. They don’t make judgements, are never cynical – they are a force. They surround us, enfold us and make a haphazard, sensual sense of the world. Our panic, their calm. Our collisions, their lightness. All spirit – like a breeze..
Small wonder his work touched millions.
Lucky us to be able to say we knew him. And if that is the beginning of the long song of celebration, of the determination to live our lives as well he lived his, maybe this is the chorus.

Hey! Mr Tambourine Man. Play a song for me.
I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to.
Hey! Mr Tambourine Man. Play a song for me.
In the jingle jangle morning we’ll come following you.

Alan Rickman. November 22nd 2003


 

Ode to my son Michael

“Music”, he said, “has always been the language I speak best”
And now we lay his mortal remains to rest
So ends a half century of a musical adventure
Which we know will surely continue in his absentia
For music, the food of love is never done
Though Michael’s loss, alas, is music minus one
His legacy to his beloved family and friends
Is the ‘joie de vivre’ that will never end
The product of his passionate and creative mind
With a lifetime pursuit of service to mankind
We will grieve and miss you, my dear son
But you shall be praised and remembered by everyone.

(With apologies to Edna St Vincent Millay)
Down, down into the dust and the grave
Gently he goes, the handsome, the tender, the kind
Quietly he goes, the intelligent, the witty, the brave
We know, but we do not approve
And we are not resigned
No we are not resigned, Michael, and we pledge to carry on your struggle to teach the language of music to undeserved and underprivileged children throughout the land.

 

Saul Kamen. November 22nd 2003