The Call’s vocalist/guitarist Michael Been, an Oklahoma City native, died Aug. 19 after suffering a heart attack backstage at the Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium.
The 60-year-old rocker passed away on tour working as sound manager of his son, Robert’s, band, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, which appeared at the festival along with The Flaming Lips.
The Call’s 1986 song “Oklahoma” lost to the Lips’ “Do You Realize??” as the Official Oklahoma Rock Song, but lyrics from that song became the title of the Oklahoma History Center’s “Another Hot Oklahoma Night” rock ‘n’ roll exhibit in 2009.
Been, who was born and raised in Oklahoma City, planted his musical and lyrical roots in the Sooner State.
“Oklahoma was the melting pot for that whole area of music,” Been told the Tulsa World in 1997. “I was young, but that’s when I first started listening intently to music, and I was hearing everything ” country, blues, R&B, New Orleans jazz, rockabilly. It was all an influence. … My only memories of Oklahoma are pretty much sports and music, and I didn’t dig sports that much.”
The Call, which included fellow Okie Scott Musick, is known for “Let the Day Begin,” a No. 1 hit on the U.S. Mainstream Rock chart that served as Al Gore’s anthem for his 2000 presidential campaign. Other hits included “I Still Believe (Great Design)” and “The Walls Came Down.”
The band performed with U2’s Bono, Simple Minds’ Jim Kerr, ex-Band members Garth Hudson and Robbie Robertson and toured with Peter Gabriel, who dubbed The Call “the future of American music.”
“I appreciate that (Gabriel) likes the band, but that comment has really been a pain in the ass,” Been told the World in 1997. “I like Peter very much, and I’m glad our music makes him feel strongly, but I gave it to him next time I saw him. I’m sure it was off the cuff. Journalists and publicists have a tendency to run with the ball.”
Been also played the Apostle John in Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ.” “Rob Collins