Friday, February 22, 2013

Hilly Michaels - Calling All Girls

Unless you are a big time music aficionado, the name Hilly Michaels probably doesn't mean much to you.  This is a shame, because Hilly had a really interesting, slightly crazy career that includes 2 good hyper-bubblegum albums and a ton of jobs as a session drummer.

Hilly (given name: Michael Hillman) started drumming in the late 1960's with Michael Bolton and went on to work with Sparks, Dan Hartman ("Instant Replay"), Ellen Foley and Ian Hunter ("All of the Good Ones Are Taken"), among others.  In 1980 he released his first solo album, Calling All Girls.  Produced by Roy Thomas Baker (famous for his work with The Cars and Queen), Calling All Girls is critically acclaimed for its uptempo new wave popiness.  The album is filled with well-crafted pop songs and features appearances by Liza Minnelli (really), Elton John, Greg Hawkes (Cars) and G.E. Smith (SNL).

The "Calling All Girls" video was an early classic on MTV and it is not hard to see why.  In addition to the catchy pop song, the vibrant animation really distinguishes this video from other of the era.  In fact, "Calling All Girls" was the 93rd song ever played on MTV (the first day), and it remained an early favorite of the channel for some time.

In spite of the strong material, the album did not connect with listeners and Hilly's second album, 1981's Lumia did not fare any better.  Hilly remained active for years as a session drummer, before leaving the industry to live in the Caribbean and then Florida for a number of years.  He still performs one a somewhat unpredictable basis to the present day.

Cool trivia fact: Hilly's manager was Jake Hooker.  That name doesn't ring a bell?  Well, Hooker was the guitarist of the Arrows, famous for writing and recording the original version of "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," later made famous by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts.  [The link will magically transport you to the March 2012 ERV blog post featuring the original and the cover.]

Cool trivia fact #2:  Michaels was asked to join KISS twice -- in 1980 and in 1990.  He declined both times.

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