Grammy nominee music producer, We Five member
This article was updated on Nov. 19, 2002.
Grammy nominee Michael Stewart, music producer for Billy Joel, Tom Jones and Kenny Rankin, and who started as a member of the 1960s folk-rock group We Five, died Nov. 13 in Sacramento after a long illness. He was 57.
Riverside, Calif., native grew up in Southern California surrounded by music; indeed, his older brother John was a member of the folk group Kingston Trio and later went solo.
With friend Jerry Burgan, he started the Ridgerunners folk music group in 1963, playing regularly at a folk music club in Upland, Calif. The quintet changed its name to We Five in 1965 while playing at the Hungry i in San Francisco and gained a record deal.
That same year, the group, known for their relatively complex harmonies, released “You Were on My Mind,” which reached No. 1 in Cashbox and No. 2 on Billboard’s hits list (song remains a favorite on oldies radio playlists), and We Five received a best new group Grammy nomination. The next year, they had a Top 40 hit with “Let’s Get Together.”
Moving into record producing and computers, Stewart produced Joel’s breakthrough album “Piano Man,” and helped create albums and singles for singers such as Jones and Rankin. He also designed systems for Digidesigns and for Adobe for use by musicians and arrangers. His technological creations include the Session8 Digital Audio Workstation for PC, the Impulse Drum Trigger, and the Human Clock, which instructs computerized musical devices to follow a human tempo.
He is survived by wife Kate, two sons and a daughter.