Hilly Michaels drummer on Sparks Big Beat album

Hilly Michaels drummer with Sparks, Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson
Drummer Hilly Michaels in 1976
Sparks "Big Beat" Album
In the mid '70s The New York-based session drummer Hilly "Boy" Michaels was known for his incredible timing and energy on albums so Sparks enlisted Hilly Michaels in July 1976. Michaels, The Maels and bassist Sal Maida did reharsals and pre-production work for "Big Beat" with guitarist Mick Ronson recording demo tapes. Mick Ronson was considered for the album but he finally declined and Sal Maida brought in Tuff Darts Jeffrey Salen to play guitar on what became the "Big Beat" Lp on Columbia Records.
Hilly Michael was the only one musician from "Big Beat" recording sessions who toured North America with the band. Hilly Michaels can be seen on drums alongside The Maels in the "Rollercoaster" motion picture. -

In 1977, Hilly "Boy" Michaels as a solo artist did an excellent cover of  "Instant Karma" on the Big Sound Records' Phil Spector tribute "Bionic Gold". After that he worked for Ian Hunter, Mick Ronson, Ellen Foley and backed Connecticut auteur Roger C. Reale. Two years later Hilly Michaels finally stepped forward as a singing, songwriting solo artist recording his own album on Capital Records, "Calling All Girls", produced by famous Roy Thomas Baker (Queen, The Cars).

Hilly Michaels' "Calling All Girls" could be described as The Cars on speed (Cars keyboardist Greg Hawkes even puts in an appearance). A very motley cast of musicians played on the album, including Liza Minelli, her stepsister Lorna Luft, actor-singer Ellen Foley, former bandmate "Saturday Night Live" guitarist G.E. Smith, Elton John blonde guitarist Davey Johnstone and rocker Dan Hartman. Roy Thomas Baker made the album snap, crackle and pop with his usual bag of tricks : Compressed drums, massed operatic backing vocals, and lots of high and low frequencies. The "Calling All Girls" album is a fun though lightweight mix of glam and power-pop played and produced by pros. It's a friendly-sounding record that makes for a nice change of pace from heavier listening. Possibly the best track on the album is the last one, "Something On Your Mind", which is so funny and sounded "Sparks" a lot. This song also was on the soundtrack to "Caddyshack" movie.

"Calling All Girls" album CD by Hilly "Boy" Michaels
Hilly "Boy" Michaels' Album
"Calling All Girls" 1980

At time his manager Jake Hooker (formerly guitarist of The Arrows) got Hilly Michaels a million dollar deal with Warner Brothers records, and he orchestrated the deal for the first big budget MTV style video to promote Hilly's single "Calling All Girls". It was a landmark, breakthrough video in the industry. Hilly Michaels' "Calling All Girls" video was all over MTV back in the days when MTV's programmers didn't have a lot to choose from and were occasionally forced to show decent material.

One year later Hilly Michaels released a follow-up called "Lumia" (Warner Bros) which had little distribution. This second Lp was less satisfying because much more FM orientated but was listenable anyway. After that, Hilly Michaels went back to session recordings.
In 1982, Hilly Michaels played drums with a short lived group he was in which also featured Mick Ronson on guitar and Les Fradkin on bass.

Hilly Michaels "Lumnia" album CD
Hilly Michaels second Lp
second album "Lumnia" 1981

Hilly Michaels did session work and live performances with numerous artists including : Ian Hunter (Mott The Hoople), Dan Hartman, G.E. Smith, Mick Ronson (David Bowie), Stevie Wonder, Lindsey Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac), Ellen Foley, Cherry Vanilla, Neil Young, David Sanborn, Michael Bolton, Marianne Faithfull, Johnny & Edgar Winter, Rick Derringer, Liza Minnelli, John Waite (The Babies), Kasim Sulton (Todd Rundgren), Greg Hawkes (The Cars), Karla DeVito, Elliot Easton (The Cars), Vinnie Vincent (Kiss), Michael Kamen, producer Rupert Holmes, Wally Badarou, Hiram Bullock, Cyndi Lauper, Buster Poindexter (David Johansen), Clarence Clemons (Bruce Springsteen), Max Weinberg, John "Cougar" Mellencamp, guitarist Roy Buchanan, Peach and Lee, Ronnie Wood (The Rolling Stones), Gene Simmons (Kiss) and many many others. Last but not least, Hilly "Boy" Michaels was Marianne Faithfull's fiancé.

Sparks Live at The Bottom Line NYC

Sparks Live At The Bottom Line. After the release of the "Big Beat" album Sparks toured North America with a slightly change of the line-up - David Swanson on bass guitar, Luke Zamperini & Jimmy McAllister on guitars and Hilly Boy Michaels still on drums. During winter '76 Sparks played a memorable gig at "The Bottom Line" club, NYC. Sparks played two evenings at Greenwitch Village. The Sparks performance was recorded December 21st 1976. Later this tape from the sound board turned up on a scarce live bootleg. Eleven songs were recorded, mainly tracks from "Big Beat", so on this album "real" live versions of "Big Boy" & "Fill'er Up" can be heard... - read more...

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Sparks Propaganda album

Informations regarding Hilly Michaels
were obtained from Dana, Brooklin, NYC :

More informations from
Hilly Michaels' Official page :

Additional infos from Carl Van Breukelen and Fredéric "Fred Popdom" Fauchet

©2006 by XAVIER LORENTE-DARRACQ / GRAPHIK DESIGNS - FRANCE duplication strictly prohibited