Lee Michaels (born Michael Olsen on November 24, 1945) is a pop/rock singer-songwriter and business entrepreneur that was the 'next big thing' of the 70s pop scene for a time. Born in Los Angeles, California, Michaels, also known as Mike Olsen, began his music career with The Sentinals, a San Luis-based surf rock group that included musicians Merrell Fankhauser and Johny Barbata (later of The Turtles and Jefferson Airplane). Michaels joined Barbata in The Strangers as well, a group led by Joel Scott Hill, before moving to San Francisco and taking in the experimental rock scene.
In 1967, he signed a contract with A&M Records, releasing his debut album, 'Carnival Of Life', later that year. Michaels' choice of the Hammond organ as his primary instrument was unusual for the time, as was his bare-bones stage and studio accompaniment, which was usually just a single drummer. Said person was most often a musician known as 'Frosty' (Bartholomew Eugene Smith-Frost} or was journeyman artist Joel Larson of The Grass Roots.
This unorthodox approach attracted a following in San Francisco, and some critical notice, but Michaels did not achieve any real commercial success until the release of his fifth album. Titled simply 'Fifth', the album produced a surprise U.S. Top 10 hit (rising all the way up to #6 in the fall of 1971) in "Do You Know What I Mean". Michaels also produced a Top 40 follow-up, a cover version of the Motown standard "Can I Get A Witness" (originally sung by Marvin Gaye).
Michaels recorded two more albums for A&M before signing a contract with Columbia Records in 1973. His Columbia recordings failed to generate much interest, and Michaels went into semi-retirement from the music business by the end of the decade. He currently owns a chain of restaurants, named 'Killer Shrimp', around Southern California. As the rumor goes, after a trip to New Orleans, Michaels invented a specialty dish that his friends liked so much that they urged him to open a restaurant based around. As a business entrepreneur, Michaels has also found considerable success. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.