What happened to Lee Michaels?

There was a rock musician named Lee Michaels who was popular in the early 70s. His command of the Hammond B3 sound (which I never tire of hearing) has always held my rapt attention. His soulful vocals were resonant, sharply accented by a strong upper range. He was known for his Top 10 hit in 1971, “Do You Know What I Mean?”.

Lee Michaels recorded and performed with just one other musician, a powerhouse drummer by the name of “Frosty” (Bartholomew Eugene Smith-Frost). The sonics they produced were amazing for a two person ensemble.

The Lee Michaels album that was on my turntable the most was Lee Michaels on A&M Records (1969). It was a spontaneous masterpiece that Lee Michaels and Frosty recorded in six hours. The WNEW-FM 102.7 radio station played Lee Michaels Side One regularly late at night because it flowed so well from one track to the next.


 Michaels recorded two more albums for A&M before signing a recording contract with Columbia Records in 1973. His Columbia recordings failed to generate much interest, and Michaels went into semi-retirement from the music industry by the end of the 70s decade. (Source: wikipedia)

I’m happy to report that Lee Michaels has surfaced as the creator of the recipe known as “Killer Shrimp” This is a scenic restaurant in the Marina Del Ray, California boat basin. It appears his son Kevin Michaels is the owner. The restaurant just re-opened this fall. If you want to more details about the restaurant click on over and Like their Facebook Page, Killer Shrimp.


23 Replies to “What happened to Lee Michaels?”

    1. I saw Lee and Frosty play the Municipal Auditorium in Atlanta. Lee played an acoustic piano, no organ. There was not some not so pleasant banter between Lee and some in the audience, mostly regarding the music loudness. Lee got up and walked off stage after 5-6 songs. End of show.


  1. I remember in Alaska recording of the radio onto a portable cassette player “Do you know what i mean” I loved his voice, and the way he played. Certainly wish he’d done more…..


    1. Yes Diane, at 15 I used to sit by my little cheap radio alarm clock in 1972 and wait for his songs to play so i could record them on a portable cassette player. I was living in a little place called Sterling in Alaska. A long ways from a record shop so don’t judge me too harshly for stealing them off the radio…..

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I bought the one record recently for that single that everyone knows. Then I bought another record. And another. And another… I have all but one now, and I love his music so much. No one ever seems to talk about him.
    I have also eaten at Killer Shrimp, but it was before I knew of Lee…


      1. I have all the originals on LP, he put out several albums then one way records put out on CD, got em all, now out of print. His version of Stormy Monday is the best of anyone ever…give it a listen that B3 is screaming!


  3. I saw him (with Frosty of course) here in Vancouver in 70 or 71, they opened for CCR and stole the show in my opinion. I was a fan before the show but an even bigger fan following it. Incredible sound for 2 guys and being a drummer I was blown away by Frosty, good memories!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Like Bill, I was lucky to have seen Lee and Frosty, my show was at Winterland in S.F. in the very early 70’s. Lee could hit notes on the B-3 that resonated well down into the spine, and Frosty’s drum solo was the most amazing I have ever seen, and I saw some good ones, Ginger Baker and Carmin Appice come to mind. About halfway thru the solo, Frosty threw his drum sticks into the crowd, and played another 7-10 minutes with his bare hands! He was a big guy, with big hair, and big hands, and I will never forget his barehanded attack on those drum heads. Lee Michaels’ album “Barrel” was a more finely produced effort, with some great songs and production on it…….highly recommended.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lee started with a surf band called “The Sentinals” in 1962. I saw Lee for the first time in 1968, Still with his original 4 piece band. You could see then what was coming. The following year it was just him and Frosty at the Anaheim Convention Center. His third LP “Lee Michaels” Had just been released. WOW, he brought the house down. What a show. I was 17, I’d never seen anything like it. It was a very loud show, My ears rang for two days. In the L.A. times the following week I saw an article about the show. The venue had to bring in Structural Engineer’s because Lee rattled the nuts and bolts loose. The venue was closed for about a month. I saw him several more times including in Las Vegas in 1975. By then he was playing Guitar because the Hammond Organ had damaged his hearing. This was why his career was cut short. Really a shame, I love this artist so much. I finally got the re-mastered copy of his third album on CD a few years ago. Still just blows me away. We miss you Lee.


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lee Michaels came up in a convo earlier this eve. We tossed around some Hammond player giants, but always came back to Do You Know What I Mean.. Oh man, takes me back to when I first heard it in ’72 as a kid and it was one of the first influences of anything that made me feel there is a whole world, universe, out there. Playing it now. Oooooooooooooooooo man.


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