Mike's Oud Forums

In Memory of Michel Merhej

Brian Prunka - 5-19-2020 at 09:39 AM

While this isn't strictly oud-related, I wanted to share a video I made in memory of a great musician and a wonderful man who was one of my mentors, Michel Merhej Baklouk.

You might not know his name, but you are familiar with his playing. He is on all of the Rahbani and Fairuz music up until the late 1970s, and countless records from Lebanon. He played with Abdel Wahab, was Farid's bandleader for a time, played with Sabah, Majda el-Roumi, Sabah Fakhri and countless other legends.

To oud players he may be best known as the riq player on Ziad Rahbani's "Bil Afrah" album and many of Simon Shaheen's ensembles, which is how he ended up involved in my project of reviving the music from that album in live performance. Consequently I was fortunate to spend a lot of time with him and perform many times with him in that band and others. Unfortunately he contracted COVID-19 and passed away recently. I wanted to make a video highlighting some of our memories with him:

Here's a nice interview with him from a while back, and some more videos about him (some of these are partly in Arabic).

alim - 5-19-2020 at 02:53 PM

Thanks for sharing Brian. Sorry for your loss. I met him once either at Stanford or Berkeley at a Simon concert. He was always so dignified. May he rest in peace.


hakimoud - 6-24-2020 at 08:37 AM

Thanks for sharing this Brian, a lost for Tarab family ...

coolsciguy - 6-24-2020 at 11:26 AM

I remember him from Simon's documentary on Aljazeera. Thanks for sharing.

Brian Prunka - 6-24-2020 at 12:10 PM

Thanks guys. He was a special musician and person and is greatly missed.

Here are a few pictures of him back in the day:

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Brian Prunka - 6-24-2020 at 12:16 PM

a few more:

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Jason - 6-24-2020 at 01:42 PM

Thanks for sharing Brian I was just listening to Bil Afrah this week. It looks like he was blessed with a life full of music and was eager to share his experience with so many people. May he rest in peace and be remembered.

majnuunNavid - 6-25-2020 at 06:30 AM

He was such an approachable guy at the Arabic Music Retreat... Thanks for this Brian.