Even in the internet age I was not aware until someone sent me a notice about it today that Michael Been of the band The Call had passed away last Thursday, August 19th. At a show by his son’s band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Been was working backstage and had a heart attack; he was 60 years old. Click here for a short news story on Been’s death from HitFix.
Been holds a special place in my own musical history, as his band The Call was the very first act I saw in a real live concert setting when they opened for Simple Minds at the Gaillard Auditorium in Charleston, SC back in 1985. I had never heard of them before that night but promptly went and found Reconciled, their current album at the time.
At WUSC, the college radio station i DJ’ed at while a student at the University of South Carolina, I had ample opportunity to not only hear the rest of the band’s catalog and play it on the air, I got the chance to interview Been himself when The Call played on campus in 1987. The one line I remember from that has stuck with me ever since–when I asked Been about whether or not The Call was a Christian rock band, he responded, “We’re not a Christian rock band, we’re just a rock band made up of Christians…”
Been and the Call have popped up in pop culture several times in unlikely places. He played John The Baptist in the controversial film “The Last Temptation of Christ”, and the band’s song “Let The Day Begin” was used as a theme song for Al Gore’s presidential run.
I’ll remember him, and the Call, for the music, however. From the early songs such as “The Walls Came Down,” to later material like “What Happened To You,” the music was always powerful and spiritually charged.