H I S T O R Y

Michael Landau - Bio

Born June 1st, 1958 in Van Nuys, Ca. (a suburb of Los Angeles), Michael Landau discovered the guitar early on. His uncles loved the music of The Beatles and Mike would stay at their house often and watch them play with facination.  His grandfather (now 86 years old) was also a noted jazz musician for Benny Goodman's Orchestra. When Mike was 11, he got a nylon-stringed acoustic guitar, and when he turned 13, he went for an old Strat-copy. His love for the guitar was solidified when he discovered Jimi Hendrix shortly thereafter. Hendrix was a major influence in Mike's guitar style and to this day remains his biggest musical hero.

Still a long way off from his eventual career as a professional studio musician, he played in a number of high school bands with current L.A. studio cats like Steve Lukather and the Porcaro brothers. After demoing material in 1977 and going through a jazz phase (especially influenced by John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra), he became a huge fan of David Garfield's L.A.-based fusion band KARIZMA. He auditioned for the Boz Scaggs Band in late 1977, when Steve Lukather decided to concentrate on Toto, and played there until 1980. He also had a short stint in the Keane Brothers Band in the late seventies which basically was hos first professional gig.

Mike's first major record release was with the band MAXUS in 1981. He joined at a very late stage when most of the material was already written by the other band members Robbie Buchanan, Jay Gruska, Mark Leonard and Doane Perry. MAXUS only released one record (finally available on CD now in Japan), but this is now considered a classic West Coast-styled masterpiece. They performed only a few times live and then split up. He then joined Olivia Newton-John's touring band for awhile, which also featured guitarist Buzzy Feiten.

Around that time his close pal Steve Lukather was heavily into sessions but wanted to focus more on Toto. Since there was the need for another great studio-player in L.A., Luke recommended Landau. The result was that he started getting offered a lot of the types of sessions Luke had previously been hired to perform on. Mike shortly got a reputation most guitar players in the world can only dream of. He was the man for tone, taste and sound! Mike became a new star behind the scenes, something that he'd originally never wanted to be: a studio-musician. Having done that for nearly twenty years, with sometimes as many as fifteen sessions a week during peak periods, he has played with nearly every big artist in the world. Among Landau's own favorites are the records he did for Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, B.B. King, Rod Stewart and Pink Floyd.

When he wasn't playing sessions, he found time to perform in side-projects such as the afore-mentioned KARIZMA, which he joined in the late seventies, and a group called Dog Cheese that featured members of Joni Mitchell's '83-'84 touring band: Vinnie Colaiuta (dr), Larry Klein (bass) and  Steve Tavaglione (sax). They played a lot of shows in the L.A. area at places like The Baked Potato (still a highly recommended jazz and fusion place when you're in L.A.).

In 1990, after more than a decade of recording sessions for other artists, Mike finally released an album under his own name, the classic Tales from the Bulge. Around this same period, he also decided the time was right to form a band. His first effort was called DR.LANDEE, which later became RED BLUES and included his brother Teddy on bass, singer David Frazee and drum-master Carlos Vega. Around that time Lon Cohen became their manager and he a also started the label Smashed Hits which later released all the CD´s. Finally changing their name to BURNING WATER, they released four critically-acclaimed CDs that were especially successful in Japan, where they also toured two times. Following their split, Mike changed musical direction and formed THE RAGING HONKIES, a punk-rock trio again featuring brother Teddy along with new drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. Two records and two European tours followed. The powerful trio earned a lot of enthusiastic press, but again this band was not to last. In 1997, they split and Mike decided to do another solo-oriented project.

More for the beer and the fun, he now plays in and around the L.A. area with various groups like the RASCAL BALLS or recently billed as the MICHAEL LANDAU TRIO, featuring Teddy Landau or Jimmy Johnson on bass and ex-Toy Matinee/Fire Merchants/Steve Vai drummer Toss Panos. Older material such as "I'm Buzzed" from Tales, re-arranged HONKIES tunes and many new songs currently make up the set list. He also plays quite regulary with Greg Mathieson and nowadays also with keyboardist Jeff Babko.

Aside from that, Landau has been doing more sessions again, which is a good opportunity to spread Mike's brillant and outstanding playing all over the world. Currently working on his new solo album at his home studio Roodis Tones, Mike Landau has to be considered one of the best and most versatile guitar players in the world. Check out the Discography and Sessions sections for all the details.