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Michael Andrew Sembello (born April 17, 1954) is an American singer, guitarist, keyboardist, songwriter, composer and producer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Michael Sembello
Birth nameMichael Andrew Sembello
Born (1954-04-17) April 17, 1954 (age 65)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
GenresHi-NRG, new wave, synthpop, pop rock, R&B, soul, pop, funk
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, keyboards
Years active1975–present
LabelsWarner Bros., EMI, A&M
Associated actsStevie Wonder

Sembello was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his 1983 song "Maniac", which he sang and co-wrote. The song reached number-one in the United States[1] and featured in the Flashdance movie soundtrack.

He is the brother of the late songwriter and composer Danny Sembello.


Early lifeEdit

Sembello was born and raised in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, a western suburb of Philadelphia.[citation needed]


Sembello began his career in music as a session musician, working as a guitarist. By age 17 he was working professionally with Stevie Wonder on electric and acoustic guitar as a studio player on Wonder's Fulfillingness' First Finale.[citation needed] He continued the same year, chosen as one of the core artists who worked on Songs in the Key of Life, an ambitious double album that took two years to create. He was credited as lead and rhythm guitarist on most of the tracks, and shares songwriting credit with Wonder on the song "Saturn".[citation needed]

Sembello wrote a song, "Carousel", which Michael Jackson recorded for his 1982 album Thriller, but it was replaced on the track list by "Human Nature".[2][3] The song was subsequently included as a bonus track on Thriller 25 - the 25th anniversary edition reissue of the album; the full version was later released on iTunes in 2013 as part of The Ultimate Fan Extras Collection. [4]

Sembello released his first solo album, Bossa Nova Hotel, in 1983. The song "Maniac" from that album, which he co-wrote with his keyboardist Dennis Matkosky, was selected for inclusion in the film Flashdance. "Maniac" was the second best charting song from the soundtrack (after the title track) and the ninth biggest single of 1983. That soundtrack won a Grammy Award in 1983 for Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special.[5]

Sembello produced guitarist Jennifer Batten's first solo album, Above Below and Beyond in 1992.[6] In 1994, he produced Argentine singer Valeria Lynch's album Caravana de Sueños (1994), and co-wrote the title song with Puerto Rican Wilkins Vélez.[citation needed]

Sembello's songs are featured in the films Cocoon, Independence Day, Gremlins, The Monster Squad and Summer Lovers. His song "Gravity" from the film Cocoon was accompanied by a music video directed by Cocoon director Ron Howard and included an appearance by Howard in a scripted fictional foreword to the video.[citation needed]

In 2008, Sembello worked with saxophonist Michael Lington on his album Heat, which was nominated as Jazztrax Album of the Year for 2008.[citation needed] Michael and his brother Danny Sembello penned three songs with Lington for the project.

Sembello has recorded his vocals in six languages.[citation needed] In May 2009, the album Moon Island was released on EMI Japan. The album consists of American pop songs given new arrangements with a strong Brazilian influence.


Studio albumsEdit

  • Bossa Nova Hotel (1983)
  • Without Walls (1986)
  • Caravan of Dreams (1992)
  • Backwards in Time (1997)
  • Ancient Future (2002)

Compilation albumsEdit

  • The Lost Years (2003)


Title Release Peak chart positions Album



"Summer Lovers" 1982 Summer Lovers
"Maniac" (also from Flashdance) 1983 1 2 11 6 28 10 7 2 43 Bossa Nova Hotel
"Automatic Man" 34 49 66
"Talk" 1984 37
"Gremlins...Mega Madness" Gremlins
"Gravity" (also from Cocoon) 1985 Without Walls
"Tear Down the Walls" 1986
"Wonder Where You Are" 79
"Heavy Weather" 1992 Caravan of Dreams
"Reach for the Dream" 1995 non-album single
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Michael Sembello > Chart History > Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved August 31, 2018. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |magazine= (help)
  2. ^ Pirnia, Garin (May 7, 2012). "Human Nature". Rolling Stone.
  3. ^ Wheeler, Brad (May 20, 2014). "The maestro Quincy Jones and his singing Montreal protégé". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on October 12, 2018. Retrieved October 12, 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  4. ^ Recordings, Legacy (July 2, 2013). "Carousel". PR NewsWire. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help). Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  5. ^ "Jackson Claims 8 Grammys". Times-News. February 29, 1984. Retrieved December 21, 2010.
  6. ^ Prato, Greg (December 30, 2003), "Jennifer Batten Biography",, Rovi Corp, retrieved July 26, 2011
  7. ^ "Michael Sembello > Chart History > Adult Contemporary". Billboard. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  8. ^ "Michael Sembello > Chart History > Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs". Billboard. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  9. ^ Australian chart peaks:
  10. ^ "Ultratop > Michael Sembello in Ultratop Vlaanderen" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  11. ^ German singles chart peaks:
  12. ^ "The Irish Charts – All there is to know > Search results for 'Michael Sembello' (from". (original source published by Fireball Media). Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  13. ^ " > Michael Sembello in Dutch Charts" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  14. ^ " > Michael Sembello in New Zealand Charts". Hung Medien. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  15. ^ " > Michael Sembello in der Schweizer Hitparade" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  16. ^ "Official Charts > Michael Sembello". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved October 1, 2016.

External linksEdit