Michael Utley grew up in Arkansas and was heavily influenced by the sounds of Memphis soul and New Orleans rhythm and blues. During spring break of his senior year at the University of Arkansas, Utley had the opportunity to record with Bill Black's Combo in Memphis. Then, after Tony Joe White had his hit with "Polk Salad Annie," Mike was invited to play on his second album. After he graduated from college with a BA in Zoology, Mike moved to Memphis and began working full time as a musician.
In February 1973, after Jimmy Buffett had moved to Key West from Nashville, he heard Utley playing on one of Jerry Jeff Walker's albums. He liked what he heard and asked Mike to play on his first ABC/Dunhill album A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean. During this time, Utley was touring with Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge and was the musical director of the band Speedway in the movie, A Star is Born. Simultaneously, he began touring with Jimmy and has been with him ever since.
Mr. Utley has recorded with an impressive list of artists including Aretha Franklin, Sam & Dave, Brook Benton, Arthur Conley, Ronnie Hawkins, Duane Allman, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Jimmy Cliff, Lulu, Petula Clark, Carmen McRae, Sam "The Sham", Jackson Browne, Booker T. Jones, John Kay (Steppenwolf) and Jerry Jeff Walker. Utley is also the accomplished producer of eleven albums with Mr. Buffett. Additionally, he produced Roy Orbison's Greatest Hits album, and was producer/musical director for the Cinemax special, "Black and White Night" with Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, and Tom Waits.