Living among Hollywood’s glitz and glamour is a pipe dream for most. For Clinton resident Artie Kane, that dream became reality.
With others’ help, Kane penned a book detailing his life as an acclaimed studio musician in Hollywood. Slated for release in the next week or two, the biography tracks his progression from the prodigious piano-playing son of Eastern European Jewish immigrants to “the finest pianist in Hollywood.”
“I’ve never had a local person ask me about my career, and I’m fine with that because it is what it is,” Kane said. “With that in mind, and the fact I don’t hide anything, it’s been easy to tell my story. It’s something I’ve wanted to do.”
The book, “Artie Kane, Music to my Years, Life and Love Between the Notes,” is Kane’s magnum opus. The 88-year-old former studio musician has fingerprints all over well-known television shows and movies from the 1960s to the turn of the century. Although as a studio musician he isn’t as widely known to the common person as musicians in famous bands, Kane was well known throughout the Los Angeles entertainment industry for his abilities on the keys. As Kane is typically behind the scenes or in the studio, the biography brings Kane’s story to the public. The book was created by Kane telling his stories to his wife, JoAnn Kane, and editor Marian Blue.
Kane’s name has been on the music credits for classic shows and movies, but his talents were noticed far before he was rubbing shoulders with the likes of Barbra Streisand. The biography details his piano-playing from his early days, when he was described as a “prodigy” by local papers in his hometown Columbus, Ohio. The son of Jewish immigrants who fled modern day Belarus from an increasingly anti-Semitic Soviet Union, he started taking piano lessons at age 4.
“This is a story about somebody who was from a family of immigrants that didn’t have money and faced prejudice growing up,” Marian Blue, editor and Clinton resident, said. “The whole process of what happened with him shows what can happen when this country is at its best. It’s the American Dream.”
Kane’s talent took him to New York City when he was just starting out with his career, but the move “wasn’t a success,” Kane says. While in the Big Apple, however, a man with ties to Hollywood overheard Kane playing during a rehearsal. The man told him to give him a call if he ever found himself in Los Angeles, which Kane wrote off by thinking, “Sure, I’ve heard this before.”
Eventually, Kane did arrive in Los Angeles hoping to find success. He called the man, recalling he tried to “call his bluff” on the job opportunity. When told to come to the studio one morning, he only expected to be stepping in for another pianist for a session or two.
That wasn’t the case. Kane suddenly found himself with a new job in Hollywood studios.
“One thing leads to another, that’s been my experience in life,” Kane said. “It’s not like other businesses. You don’t really know what’s happening necessarily from one minute to the next, you just go with it.”
From there, Hollywood noticed Kane’s talent. Known for his ability to work at a rapid pace, he landed job after job ranging from television shows, such as Wonder Woman and Matlock to movies later in his career like Mission Impossible and Good Will Hunting. Kane also worked alongside famed performance musicians such as Frank Sinatra, Quincy Jones and Andy Williams.
According to JoAnn Kane, who is Kane’s eighth wife, he had a reputation for being the go-to pianist in town. His attitude when they first met suggested otherwise, she remembers.
“When I met him, it wasn’t anything like his reputation as the finest Hollywood pianist,” JoAnn Kane said. “He was friendly, honest and there was never a shortage of things to talk about. I thought he had such an interesting and full life.”
The Kanes eventually moved to Whidbey Island 25 years ago to escape the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. They continued to commute to the city for a few years on a regular basis, but they retired on the island around the turn of the century.
Although Artie Kane has lived here for more than two decades, he says his friends and neighbors hardly ask him about his career. He’s fine with that. As the years passed, however, he wanted to tell his story in one piece. It took 10 years to complete the biography, but it’ll finally hit local book stores in the coming week.