Dynasties of L.A. Studio Musicians (Part 1): The Melvoins


Drummer Joe Porcaro, pianist Mike Melvoin and percussionist Gary Coleman worked extensively as studio musicians in Los Angeles. From the nineteen-sixties on they left their mark on countless pop songs, movie soundtracks and TV themes. Their music still can be heard daily on radio and television. But there’s another legacy: their daughter and sons who also became musicians.

In the next three days the story about the children of these musicians will unfold. The three families have one thing in common: musical talent. And each of the three families had to mourn the death of a talented son.

Let’s start with the family of jazz piano player Mike Melvoin. He recorded among others with Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett, Bonnie Raitt, Diana Ross, The Ventures, Quincy Jones, The Beach Boys, John Lennon, Tom Waits, The Partridge Family and Duane Eddy.

Mike Melvoin’s twins Wendy and Susannah (January 26, 1964) and his son Jonathan (December 6, 1961 – July 12, 1996) became musicians.

Wendy Melvoin is a guitar player, singer-songwriter, composer and producer. She worked with Prince for a while in the nineteen-eighties, together with her childhood friend, keyboard player Lisa Coleman. After their stint with Prince Wendy and Lisa founded Lisa and Wendy. They’re not only a band, but they also write scores for movies and TV shows (Something New, Crossing Jordan, Heroes). They both produce other artists and work as live and studio musicians. Lisa Coleman is also the daughter of a Los Angeles musician who worked many studio sessions. You can read more about her tomorrow.

Wendy’s twin sister Susannah is a singer, guitarist, songwriter and actress. Like her sister she worked with Prince for a while in the nineteen-eighties. She sang background vocals among others with Roger Waters, Eric Clapton and Mike Oldfield, Donna Summer. She’s married to guitarist and singer Doyle Bramhall II. Before she had relationships with Prince, Seal and John Cusack.

Wendy’s and Susannah’s brother Jonathan was a keyboardist and drummer. Like his sisters he also worked with Prince. While he was on tour with the Smashing Pumpkins he died of a drug overdose.

Read tomorrow about Gary Coleman and his three children who also played a crucial role in Prince’s career.

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