charlie lustman cancer musician

From Singer to Cancer Survivor to Songwriter and back again... better than ever!

Motivational Performer Musician Charlie Lustman

Charlie Lustman was born on May 8, 1965, in Munich, Germany, on the twentieth anniversary of the end of World War Two. Charlie’s family left Europe for California shortly thereafter. The son of a Holocaust survivor, Charlie grew up in Los Angeles with a passion for life and had an affinity for music from an early age. Listening to the music of Elton John, Billy Joel, The Beatles and other pop artists of the 1960’s and 70’s inspired Charlie to study piano and teach himself guitar eventually composing his own pop songs as a young teenager. After High School, Charlie attended The Berklee College Of Music in Boston and graduated with a diploma in television and film scoring. Moving to New York City in 1987, he wrote commercial music for three years before deciding to pursue a songwriting career in Europe.

From 1990-1992, Charlie wrote songs, performed in cafes and formed his first band, The Hearts and Souls, who toured the club scene in Copenhagen. By 1993, Charlie returned to Los Angeles with a large catalog of original music and began searching for a recording contract. In 1994, his longtime friend and television writer, Max Mutchnick (co-creator of Will & Grace) connected Charlie with the executive producer of The Mike & Maty Show on ABC which led to his position as musical director from 1994-1997. This enabled Charlie to produce his first studio album, THE GOLDEN ROAD, vol. 1.

During these years, Charlie went back to Denmark to release his album and began writing songs for several of the big acts in Scandinavia who all wanted to sing in English. After three years of composing, touring and producing, Charlie flew back to L.A. and decided to take on a new role as a revivalist. He purchased, renovated, reopened, and operated, The Silent Movie Theatre in Hollywood, the last remaining silent cinema in the world. From 1999 until 2006, Charlie brought silent movies back onto the big screen with live musical accompaniment. Unfortunately, Lustman had to sell the theatre in March 2006 when he was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer (Osteosarcoma) in his upper jaw bone.

After two major surgeries and a year of adjuvant (supplemental) chemotherapy, Charlie survived the ultimate challenge and did so by returning to his first passion, music. During the course of his cancer treatment Charlie produced and performed on his second studio album, SHAYA. His thirteen song tribute to his son, Shaya, was released in 2007 followed by a national festival tour of Denmark. Remarkably, Charlie was fitted with a prosthetic replacement jaw which enabled Charlie to get back on stage singing better than ever before!

During the last stages of his chemotherapy, Charlie began writing about his cancer experience but kept it on the back burner while he completed SHAYA. Yet, he could not stop the flow of music that began to spill out of him which helped Charlie recover from his ordeal. One song after the other began to tell the complete story from his diagnosis, through treatment and recovery. He continued composing songs while in Europe and completed his collection entitled, Made Me Nuclear, upon his return to California in the fall of 2007. Production started shortly thereafter and exactly two years from the day he received that infamous “call” Charlie mastered his new recordings, MADE ME NUCLEAR, which was released in the Summer of 2008.

Charlie was inspired to take this new collection of songs to The City Of Hope cancer center in Duarte, California, and began singing the work for cancer patients and staff every Sunday for three months. The reaction to the work was phenomenal and Charlie decided to transform the music into a theatrical adaptation, eventually producing MMN the operetta at The Santa Monica Playhouse. The show opened on September 5, 2008 and ran for 88 performances over eleven months. It was a great success and Charlie has been out on the road ever since! The Musical HOPE Campaign across America and the world is Charlie’s answer to cancer. Bringing his positive and inspirational musical message to theatres, cancer centers, and health conferences, Charlie is doing what he was left on the Planet to do: making a difference to everyone going through the ultimate challenge.

See the MUSIC link in the menu for more info on the making of Made Me Nuclear.