Michael Kissel passed away in early May due to a rare form of brain cancer: glioblastoma multiforme. A consistently successful producer and songwriter since the late 1970s, Kissel was known for working with Arnold Schwarzenegger on his Total Body Workout, as well as projects with Ringo Starr, Sting, Parliament-Funkadelic, David Bowie, Rod Stewart, the Pointer Sisters, Sean Paul, the Backstreet Boys, the Four Tops, Nas and Los Lobos, among many others.
To support his output and that of countless other artists, signed and unsigned, Kissel also founded KMA Music (kmamusic.com), a Francis Manzella-designed mixing and tracking facility in the legendary Brill Building, located in New York City’s Times Square.
With clients like Paul Simon in the building, Phil Ramone was one of many music legends who got to know Kissel. “Michael was an extremely versatile songwriter — he could really hit you with the right lyric at the right moment,” Ramone says. “I also liked KMA because it was what he called it: a great songwriter’s studio. That says a lot to me, being in that historic location and all the previous tenants who had been there; that building had magic.
“Beyond that, Michael was a great family guy, too. For someone like him who wrote songs about being lonely and having heartache, he was rewarded with a beautiful family, and he appreciated that, too. I think it takes us years to learn that.”