Our Top 10 Lee Michaels songs list takes a look at an artist who is easily one of the most underrated rock and roll musicians of all time. Most music fans know of Lee Michaels because of his huge 1971 top 10 hit “Do You Know What I Mean.” But what many people fail to realize is what a killer Hammond organ player Lee Michaels is. Not to mention that amazing voice. A combination vocalist and Hammond organ player somewhere in between Gregg Allman and Steve Winwood but with an energy level that almost goes nuclear.
If one wants to really understand the rock and roll power of this incredible artist, all they need to d0 is pick up his incredible live album Lee Michaels Live which was released in 1973. It was an album that featured just Lee Michaels on Hammond organ playing keys and bass pedals and drummer Keith Knudsen. The sound of just these two musicians on stage was incredibly powerful and energetic. Fans who saw Lee Michaels perform were completely blown away.
After preforming in venues in the San Francisco area, Lee Michaels signed a recording contract with A&M Records in 1967. He released his first album in 1968 entitled Carnival of Life. Later that year he followed up his debut record with the album Recital. In the spring of 1969, Lee Michaels released the LP Lee Michaels. It was a stunning and powerful rock and roll record that featured only Lee Michaels and his drummer Barry “Frosty” Smith. For his fourth album, Lee Michaels added guitarist Drake Levin formally of Paul Revere & the Raiders’ to the recording sessions.
In 1971, Lee Michaels released his fifth album titled 5th. The album’s first single released “Do You Know What I Mean” turned Lee Michaels into a household name. Unfortunately, Lee Michaels was never able to repeat the commercial success he enjoyed with the single “Do You Know What I Mean.” Lee Michaels released two more albums for A&M records before signing with Columba Records in 1973. It was a short stay with Columbia Records as Lee Michaels only released two albums with the label that signed Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and hundreds of other legends. It would be over twenty years until Lee Michaels would release another album. In 1996 Lee Michaels released the LP Absolute Lee which is pretty much impossible to find.
There have been many Lee Michaels compilations released throughout the years and A&M released a box set of his first seven albums. Its interesting that an artist that performed with such passion for almost a decade would pretty much just disappear. And sadly, many rock and roll fans are unfamiliar with his great catalog because he just sort of walked away from the music business in the late 1970s. We hope this top 10 Lee Michaels songs list opens the eyes and ears of rock and roll fans onto this amazing talent who is still alive as of his writing in 2020 and now lives life as the owner of a handful of Killer Shrimp Restaurants on the Western Coast of the United States for the past twenty years.
# 10 – Hold On To Freedom
We open up our Top 10 Lee Michaels songs list with the smoking live version of the great song “Hold On To Freedom.” The tune first appeared on the album Space and First Takes in 1972. Lee Michaels released a killer live version of the song on his Lee Michaels Live two record set that was released a year later in 1973. The song opened up the album. This will knock off your rock and roll shoes.
# 9 – Mad Dog
“Mad Dog,” was released on Lee Michaels fourth album titled Barrel. The album reached the Billboard Top 200 peaking at number 51 in 1970. There are many influences on this record. One can hear a little Joe Cocker, a little Traffic, some Beatles and of course Paul Revere & The Raiders by way of their former guitarist Drake Levin playing on the record.
# 8 – Keep The Circle Turning
Continuing with our Top 10 Lee Michaels songs list we turn to his album entitled 5th. The song “Keep The Circle Turning,” was the album’s opening track. The song also featured Merry Clayton on background vocals.
# 7 – Went Saw Mama
“Went Saw Mama,” was released on Lee Michael’s first LP for Columbia Records entitled Nice Day For Something. The album was released in 1973. “Went Saw Mama,” is just a great grooving song, simple but fun. A little McCartney, a little Elton John. Lee Michaels expressed himself musically in many different ways during his 1970’s run.
# 6 – Carnival of Life
Going From “Went Saw Mama,” to “Carnival Of Life.” defines just how different Lee Michaels sounded on many of his albums. “Carnival of Life,” is progressive rock Lee Michaels. It was the title track from his debut album released in 1968.
# 5 – Heighty Hi
“Heighty Hi” was Lee Michaels first charting single in the United States. It didn’t chart that high as it just hovered outside of the Billboard Hot 100 at number 106. The song was released on Lee Michaels third album entitled Lee Michaels. The album was released in 1970.
# 4 – Can I Get A Witness
“Can I Get A Witness,” was the second single released from Lee Michaels most successful album entitled 5th. The song also became Lee Michaels only other top 40 hit besides “Do You Know What I Mean.” The song “Can I Get A Witness,” is what fueled the album’s name 5th as it was a reference to the 5th Amendment and the idea of freedom of speech.
# 3 – Do You Know What I Mean
As we begin to wind down this Top 10 Lee Michaels songs list we turn to the artist’s biggest hit of his career. The song “Do You Know What I Mean,” was released on his fifth album titled 5th.”Do You Know What I Mean,” became a top 10 hit for Lee Michaels peaking at number six on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971. It was one of the most successful songs of the year as Billboard ranked it in their top 20 songs of 1971. It has long become a staple of classic rock radio.
# 2 – Stormy Monday
Once again, we return to the great Lee Michaels Live album. On this one Lee Michaels lays down one of the best versions of “Stormy Monday,” we have ever heard. This is easily one of the best live rock and roll albums ever released and quite possibly the most underrated of all time. Do you own it? Probably not. But there’s a good chance you will after checking this out.
# 1 – Tell Me How Do You Feel
We close out our top 10 Lee Michaels songs list with the opening medley of “Tell Me How Do You Feel.” The medley was originally released on Lee Michaels third album titled Lee Michaels. This guy was off the charts great.
Lee Michaels Live -The most underrated live album of all time.