Michael Fitz
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Michael Fitz

Band Rock Adult Contemporary


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"Michael Fitz lends his vocals to Neil Young's Latest Album"

"MiCHAEL FITZ lends his vocals to Neil Young’s latest album Written By MATTHEW SINGER

.. after graduating from college, Michael Fitz went to work offshore as a drilling fluids engineer for a little company called Halliburton. ... later, Fitz found himself in a Los Angeles recording studio alongside 99 other people, singing while their author, rock deity and newly appointed Republican dartboard Neil Young, looked on with amusement.And they said irony died on September 11.“In a five-year period,” says the Ventura-based singer-businessman of his time with the now-infamous energy company, “I wrote about $40 million worth of business. They had a little downturn... and laid off 80 percent of the company.”That experience gave Fitzgerald, the owner of local copier dealership the Performance Group, unique insight — if not motivation — when he was hired to lend his voice to Young’s incendiary, all-encompassing anti-Bush manifesto, Living With War. An experienced vocalist and musician when not selling copy machines, Fitzgerald — who records under the name Michael Fitz — was selected to be part of the makeshift choir bolstering the legendary songwriter’s scorching dissent. As a result, he’s now indirectly (very indirectly) embroiled in the kind of controversy only Fox News can dream up: Does a Canadian citizen have the right to criticize our country and its elected leaders? Of course he does, says Fitzgerald. “It used to be people could say whatever they thought and not worry about any backlash. All of a sudden, in the last four or five years, you have to watch your tongue,” he says. “It’s the opposite of what Americanism is about.”Fitzgerald’s ... politics may tag him as a native Californian, but the reality of his upbringing is betrayed by his still-twangy accent: He was born and raised in Kentucky. An appreciation for music and art forms half of his DNA: His mother played piano and wrote poetry. But his father, an employee of General Motors, was all business. He refused to buy his son a guitar; he gave him a golf club instead. “When I was five, I traded a baseball glove for A Hard Day’s Night,” Fitzgerald recalls, “because I knew my dad would buy me a new baseball glove but not A Hard Day’s Night.” Still, the pull of his inner Jimmy Page proved to be too strong, and Fitzgerald finally picked up the axe at age 11. He went to the University of South Carolina where he initially majored in music theory and composition. “But after a couple years, I realized I didn’t want to be a band director. If you’re going to write songs and stuff like that, you don’t really need a degree.”He switched to business, and the job with Halliburton followed, landing him in Bakersfield. After severing ties with the company, he moved to Ventura, where he responded to a newspaper ad for a copier salesman. To his surprise, Fitzgerald discovered an innate talent for pushing copiers, and ..., he founded the Performance Group. While building his career, Fitzgerald didn’t stop writing and recording songs, putting together about a dozen self-produced albums over the years. In April, he was working on a new disc with esteemed vocal coach Rosemary Butler when she received a call from Neil Young, who needed 100 singers ASAP. Despite growing up in the South, Fitzgerald supported Young in his beef with redneck heroes Lynyrd Skynyrd ..., and counts him among his influences. About three days later, Fitzgerald was standing in a studio with him and the best session vocalists in town, singing words off a projector, “[Young’s] vision was he didn’t just want his voice, but a mass of voices, so it’s not just Neil singing it,” Fitzgerald explains. Going in with essentially no rehearsal, it took some time to adjust to Young’s unorthodox composition style. “One time, we had a little trouble getting his phrasing,” Fitzgerald says. “He came out and went, ‘I don’t know what I did, but I stand behind it. So figure it out.’ ” A handful of the singers marched out, not out of frustration but over disagreement with the content. But “the majority of them were like me, just thrilled to be a part of it. The songs are really strong, and the material’s good, and Neil has always been a man of integrity.”After the 12-hour session, which ended on an a capella rendition of “America the Beautiful,” Fitzgerald had the opportunity to speak with Young one-on-one. “I told him I had a nephew who is an Air Force doctor in Iraq and that I’m sure he’d really appreciate the songs and I can’t wait for him to hear them,” he says. “And he said that’s exactly who he wrote the songs for: the troops.”Now that he’s had his brush with greatness, Fitzgerald is reinvigorated creatively to finish his own album, titled The Way It Goes. He’s planning to have it done by June. If somehow it does catch fire, Fitzgerald says his business is now self-sustainable enough to spend time away from the office and on the road. But he isn’t plagued with delusions of grandeur.“I think the music is really good, and if it does succeed, I’ve got four or five good albums in me,” he says. “So my goal is to have it be successful enough to fund the next project ... But I’m just happy to be doing it at this point.” 05-11-06 - Ventura County Reporter


Michael Fitz "Everything Must Change" 2008
Michael Fitz "Never Look Back" 2006
Neil Young "Living with War" 2006



Plunging into the black depths of the ocean… pushing through colossal mounds of sand... there is oil. That oil needs to be unearthed and drilled for sale and consumption. In the early years, Michael Fitz found himself on an offshore platform drilling for oil. He was desperate and needed money. Michael says, “I had a bad habit, I wanted to eat… that’s why I started working offshore.”

Within the loneliness and desolation, Michael started writing songs. And through the exhaustion, the fires and the heat… he compiled an essay of thoughtful melodic stories. Michael Fitz’s debut CD, Never Look Back, features stunning musical essays on life and living in the moment.

Born in Lexington, Kentucky and raised on his grandfather’s tobacco farm, Michael started playing guitar at age 11. He wrote poetry at age 8. His Dad didn’t approve and tried to persuade his son to play golf.

Fitz put himself through college. He attended the University of South Carolina and graduated with a degree in Business and a minor in Music Theory and Composition.

Michael says, “I was writing songs while offshore in the Gulf of Mexico drilling for oil. I was trained as a chemical engineer and sent to California. I was a nerd but when it came to putting out explosive fires at the oil site I did my job well.”

Michael Fitz’s debut CD, Never Look Back was born out of grit, hard work and despair. It showcases Michael’s talent for songwriting and his ability to bend poetry into song. The first single “The Way It Goes” is full of metaphors and lush homegrown songwriting.

The CD was produced by renowned vocal coach Rosemary Butler. Rosemary sang and toured with Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt and Crosby Stills and Nash. It was recorded at Charlie Midnight Studios in Glendale, CA in 2006. Never Look Back was recorded and mixed by John Perez (2007). The CD features seasoned session players: Leland Sklar on bass and guitar (Phil Collins, Lyle Lovitt); On drums, the legendary Tony Brock (The Babys, Rod Stewart, Elton John, Jeff Beck, Roy Orbison); and Lee Thornberg on trumpet. Michael says, “I was learning so much from Rosemary. We were working the songs together for Never Look Back and we just clicked.”

Rosemary sang backing vocals with Crosby Stills and Nash for years. In 2006, Neil Young called Rosemary and asked her to assist in gathering 100 singers for a choir to be featured on his next record Living With War. Michael was one of the lucky 100 singers in the choir. The album debuted on the Billboard Top 200 album chart on May 27, 2006, with approximately 60,000 copies sold. It remained on the chart for 14 weeks. In 2007, the album received 3 Grammy nominations. Young was one of the first artists to publicly denounce George Bush and declare: “Let’s impeach the President for life.”

Michael says, “I learned so much from that session. The lyrics were on a projector and the album was recorded in analog. I got to chat with Neil also. He was so focused and inspired about the importance of what he was doing.”

Never Look Back is the culmination of years of hard work and intense songwriting. The first single, “The Way It Goes” is how Michael Fitz lives his life. He says, “That song is my mantra. It’s about coping with life. And to do that, sometimes you just have to suck it up, get dressed, go out and make stuff happen.”