Michael Joseph McQuilken was born on the 17th of May 1957 in San Diego, California. He began studying privately when he was 11 years old. His heroes in his youth were Ginger Baker, Bill Bruford, and Carl Palmer. His experience has included playing diverse styles of music to include symphonic, jazz, blues, and rock.
1970s - Michael began private instruction with John DeSimone. He also studied with Myron Collins, Gary Cunningham, and Butch DeRocco. Michael taught privately and played with original and top-40 bands.
1980s - The early 1980s Michael was playing with a top-40 band called Tecolote Express. He was also subbing with a variety of different bands in California and Arizona. In 1982 Michael was the drummer with The C. Castro Blues Band, and he began working with Crossfire in 1983. Michael met Rob Shinno in 1984. This partnership created Thurston’s Adventure in 1984, which evolved into Return to Zero. In 1985 Rob and Michael formed Uncommon Ground with Guitarist Ken Oyer and bassist Michael Moore and released Structures. In 1987, Michael met a Senegalese drummer named Ibou M’Baye and studied African music with him. In 1988 Rob and Michael formed New Continent and released World One World followed by the 1989 release Information Age.
1990s - Michael worked with blues guitarists Kelly Smith and Scot Tingley along with bassist Mark Breeding. Mark Breeding and Michael then teamed with Mike Haley and formed Reality Blue. At this time Michael met Ginger Baker and enjoyed the opportunity of studying with him. Michael then took some master classes with Terry Bozzio and studied with Toss Panos. Michael’s greatest growth occurred in the early to mid-1990s, practicing at least 4-5 hours every day, attending master classes and clinics with some of the greatest drummers in the world. During this period, Michael met Robert Sherwood (aka bob) and formed Fiction Damage with guitarist George Sanchez. This resulted in the 1995 release Heathen Stuff. In 1996 the band changed its name to Fiction and had TJ Brinjak on guitar. That same year Michael also formed the straight-ahead jazz ensemble So What with guitarist Doug Reese and bassist Ralph Schatz. In 1998 Fiction released This is Fiction, which experienced the song I Could Cry climbing to #38 on the Adult Contemporary charts. The band fell apart within a year of this success, and Michael returned to playing straight-ahead jazz with So What.
2000s - Michael continued playing with So What and began working with Wolftrane. He began working with the rock fusion guitarist Don Hammock and helped form DOD. Michael joined Ralph Schatz and Doug Reese in forming the straight-ahead jazz ensemble The San Diego Jazz Collective. In 2007, Michael began working with the jazz fusion guitarist Michael Insalaco and bassist Doug McElfresh, forming the band Blue Marble. In December 2009, Michael began playing with a Phish tribute band called The Squirming Coils. In January 2010, Michael began working with Shawn Hatfield’s Tragic November project.