Open main menu

Michael Kenneth Been (March 17, 1950 – August 19, 2010) was an American rock musician who achieved critical attention and rotation play on MTV in the 1980s with his band The Call. He later released an album of his solo work and toured with his son's band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. His song "Let the Day Begin" was the official campaign song of Al Gore's 2000 U.S. presidential campaign. His song "Oklahoma" was one of the top ten choices for Oklahoma's official state rock song and a line from the song provided the name for Another Hot Oklahoma Night: A Rock & Roll Exhibit at the Oklahoma History Center.

Michael Been
Michael Been.jpg
1994 publicity photo
Background information
Birth nameMichael Kenneth Been
Born(1950-03-17)March 17, 1950
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.
DiedAugust 19, 2010(2010-08-19) (aged 60)
Hasselt, Belgium
Associated actsAorta, The Call



Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Been later lived in Park Forest, south of Chicago, where he attended high school and formed his first band, The Chessman. After graduation, he moved to Chicago, where he was a member of the band Aorta at the time of their second album Aorta 2, in 1970.[1] He then joined Lovecraft, the successor band to the psychedelic rock group H.P. Lovecraft.[2] He also played with former Moby Grape members Jerry Miller and Bob Mosley in the band Fine Wine, and with Miller in the Original Haze.[1] Been also played bass on the first two albums by 2nd Chapter of Acts, their 1974 album With Footnotes and their 1975 album In the Volume of the Book, as well as Barry McGuire's 1974 release, Lighten Up.

Been formed his band, The Call in the 1970s in Northern California with Tom Ferrier on guitar, bassist Greg Freeman and drummer Scott Musick. Known as Motion Pictures at the time, they were first discovered by Tulsa's Phil Seymour. By the dawning of the 1980s, the band had become The Call, and they released a self-titled album in 1982 with Mercury Records. The band's 1983 album Modern Romans led to a world tour opening for Peter Gabriel and featured the song "The Walls Came Down" which achieved heavy rotation on MTV.[3]

Been participated in composing and performing the music to Paul Schrader's 1992 film Light Sleeper. The film also features two of his songs, To Feel This Way and World On Fire. In 1994, he recorded a solo album, On the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough.

Been appeared as a sideman in bands fronted by actor Harry Dean Stanton; Stanton having played harmonica on Let the Day Begin track, "For Love". He played the apostle John in Martin Scorsese's 1988 feature film The Last Temptation of Christ and had some film credits.[4]

Been recorded an album of solo material in the 1990s that remains unreleased.

Been's son, Robert Levon Been, is the frontman for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Michael Been was heavily involved in BRMC as their sound engineer and toured with them.

Been died at the age of 60 on August 19, 2010, in Hasselt, Belgium, of a heart attack while at the Pukkelpop 2010 music festival where he was on-tour as a sound man for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.[3][5]

Discography (solo)Edit

  • Light Sleeper (1992)
  • On the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough (1994, Qwest/Reprise)


Year Title Role Notes Ref
1988 The Last Temptation of Christ John, Apostle [citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "Aorta at". Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  2. ^ "The White Ship: The Psychedelic Voyage of H.P. Lovecraft". Nick Warburton's Rock Music. Retrieved July 21, 2010.
  3. ^ a b Triplett, Gene. "Oklahoma-born rocker Michael Been dies in BelgiumMichael Been's composition "Oklahoma" was nominated for state rock song and the inspiration for the name of the History Museum's rock 'n' roll exhibit.", The Oklahoman, August 20, 2010. Accessed August 20, 2010.
  4. ^ "Michael Been". IMDb. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  5. ^ "The Call's Been dies of heart attack",, August 20, 2010.

External linksEdit