Austin City Limits is disheartened to learn of the death of Pat Metheny Group keyboardist Lyle Mays, who died at age 66 in Los Angeles on Feb. 10 after a recurring illness.
Born in Wisconsin to musician parents, Mays studied piano and organ from an early age. After graduating from the University of North Texas, where he’d composed and arranged for the college’s famous One O’Clock Lab Band, Mays joined clarinetist Woody Herman’s group on the road. He met Pat Metheny in 1974, recording the guitarist’s second album Watercolors with him in 1977 and forming the Pat Metheny Group that same year. As co-writer, producer and arranger, Mays recorded fourteen albums with the band over the course of thirty-plus years, winning eleven Grammy awards along the way. He also performed as a sideman for artists ranging from Joni Mitchell to Earth, Wind & Fire, as well as composing music for theater and children’s records. Mays released five solo albums, including 1993’s Fictionary, a trio record with fellow North Texas alumnus Marc Johnson. After retiring from music following the Metheny Group’s final tour in 2010, the self-taught computer programmer followed his other passion and became a software manager.
Here is Mays performing “Proof” in 2003 with the Pat Metheny Group on Austin City Limits.