The great composer and musician Michel Colombier passed away on Sunday after an intense battle with cancer.
I was unbelievably privileged to know him as a dear friend, a colleague and as a mentor to me. He influenced me in many profound ways, and was a constant source of inspiration and example of the highest level of creativity and excellence. His enthusiasm for all that life had to offer was contagious to everyone that knew him. I felt very lucky to have had him in my life and to work with him for the past 20 years. He made a big impact on everyone he touched and I will miss him terribly.
Although he was highly respected by those who knew his work and had received some measure of acclaim, he never really received the true level of recognition he deserved...as one of the the truly great composers of our era. There are a number of reasons for this: for one, he was so versatile and so good in so many areas that it was very difficult to easily classify him...he was always confounding the expectations of those looking to put him in a "box". I remember him being disqualified for an Oscar nomination for the Deep Cover score, simply because he had so seamlessly merged the songs and the score so that the academy couldn't figure out where the songs ended and the score began! Another reason was that he often did incredible music for projects that quite honestly weren't worthy of his gift (His excellent score for Madonna's universally reviled "Swept Away" film is a classic example, and there are many more...). But amazingly, he always gave his all....whether it was a high profile success or something that few would ever see or hear. (Some of my favorite projects were ones that were never released or heard by the public)
He was constantly pushing the creative envelope and discovering new things about music. He was also a remarkable communicator and could effortlessly work with literally any kind of musician....from The Kronos Quartet to Tone Loc, from Jaco Pastorius to Petula Clark, from Prince and Fatboy Slim to Twyla Tharp and Mikail Barishnakov...the list goes on and on.
I've never met anyone like him.
The greatest way to truly understand Michel is to hear and appreciate his music. His music really does express his spirit and approach to life, and that's what I want to share with you guys.
Michel had an unbelievably wide range of musical experiences in a unique career which spanned from the 60's in France to the present day in Los Angeles. I've taken the liberty of compiling a list of links to excerpts from a few of my favorite Michel pieces and making some notes about some of the projects so that you can know him a little better. Please give them a listen and be sure to visit his wonderful website too:
This was a crazy psychedelic rock radio hit he did in France with a Musique Concrete guy named Pierre Henry, who did all the nutty sound FX. (Check out the retro Chimes melody on this one!) This was discovered again recently by William Orbit and Fatboy Slim, made a whole remix collection from this wild track! http://www.michelcolombier.com/mp3/psycherock.mp3
Michel always blew me away with how creative and unconventional he was with the sounds I made for him. Here's an example of an entire modern dance routine he create with only a single "brass hit" sample! http://www.michelcolombier.com/mp3/hits.mp3
After the success of "Purple Rain" and "New Jack City" films, in the last ten years Michel got a reputation for being "the urban film composer".
One of the funniest things I remember about working with Michel on these projects was a bunch of times when the stunned producers and directors would come in, and realize that Michel was actually a white guy! He quickly became known as "The Funky Frenchman" in the black film industry. :-)
This piece was from the awesome Midnight Cabaret score that was only heard by a few of us who worked on it. It was right after Michel got the D-50 and we started to work together....it totally blew me away how he so seamlessly merged the synth with the real Choir and Strings: http://www.michelcolombier.com/mp3/foreplay.mp3
I'll never forget the time Michel asked me to create an orchestra for him using the following sounds:
Mosquitos for Violins, Wolves for French Horns, and Rollercoaster screams for percussion! It was for a film that was never released called "Midnight Cabaret", that featured one of his most innovative scores. It was done with only a primitive Akai sampler and a Juno 60 http://www.michelcolombier.com/mp3/tanyas_dream.mp3
I could go on and on....he created thousands of works. Hopefully, they will be released and more widely available. His music will certainly live on forever.
I just wanted to let you guys know a little about a very special person in my life, that had a big impact on me both musically and personally. I will miss him greatly.
He wrote some very touching, intimate music. A guy who understood that a well written melody is worth its weight in gold. Sorry to hear the news and reading through his website its amazing to see just how many top artists he worked with. I knew about Prince and his pop collaborations, but I had no idea he was so versatile as to pen the score for Ruthless People one day and a contemporary ballet the next.
Michel was one of the most talented composers around, a very gifted individual; one needs only to listen to his album ‘Wings’ or ‘Sunday’, where he recorded his music with some of the best musicians on the planet. He was one of my most favourite composers.
May God give peace to his soul and give comfort to those who loved him
I am very sorry to hear of your loss of a dear friend and mentor. You have certainly paid him a great respect by honouring his memory and his accomplishments. Truly a sad loss of someone who was very unique and talented. May he rest in peace.