Hollywood loses its go-to pianist

Hollywood loses its go-to pianist


norman lebrecht

August 08, 2022

Many are mourning the death of Mike Lang, who played piano and other keyboards on 2,500 films and TV series. Lang was 80, and suffering from lung cancer.

You can hear him working for John Williams (“Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Catch Me If You Can”), Jerry Goldsmith (“Gremlins,” “The Russia House”), John Barry (“Body Heat,” “The Specialist”), Henry Mancini (“10”), Alex North (“The Shoes of the Fisherman”), Elmer Bernstein (“The Rainmaker”), Miklós Rózsa (“Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid”) and so many more.

He also recorded albums with Barbra Streisand, Barry Manilow, Aretha Franklin, Franz Zappa, Russell Watson and Michael Bolton.

Obituary here.

Not to be confused with any other brand of Lang.


  • william osborne says:

    The video sounds like Philip Marlowe in an elevator.

  • Phil A says:

    Mike Lang was an amazing artist. Not just one of the great keyboard performers of our era, but the entire history of sound recordings.

    He was a complete musician who also cared deeply about the well-being of his fellow musicians and the development of future artists. Some of his more recent performances were at the Colburn School under the umbrella of Piano Spheres.

    Mike was in his late seventies and played for several hours to the delight of a large audience which crossed every possible age, racial and cultural demographic. His music deeply touched everyone who heard him. He was a gift.

  • Kathy Rubbicco says:

    I always wondered who played the piano solo on Body Heat. Great solo!

    On a gig with Mike for Lalo Schifrin, on second chair, electric, we had a solo in unison, sixteenth notes at a brisk clip. At the end of the cue, Mr. Schifrin must have been happy, as we were instructed to continue wih the next cue.

    Mike whispered to me that I missed the third sixteenth note of beat 3 in bar 28. I said I did not.

    I once got a call from Your Girl for a studio date with Mark Snow. A few hours later, Your Girl called me and said I was no longer needed.
    When my late nusband, noted studio player, Clark Spangler, investigated, he found out that Mike had told Mr. Snow I couldn’t read music.
    I could go on, but since you won’t publish this anyway, and out of respect for the dead, I won’t.
    Kathy Rubbicco