Michael Edward Utley is an Americanmusician, songwriter, and record producer for Jimmy Buffett‘s Coral Reefer Band. He is the musical director of the band. Born in Blytheville in Mississippi County, Arkansas, he graduated from the University of Arkansas where he was initiated into the Sigma Chi Fraternity. He was recognized by Sigma Chi as a Significant Sig in 2017.
Early in his career, Utley worked with the house band for Atlantic Records in Miami, Florida‘s Criteria Studios backing performers such as Aretha Franklin, Jerry Jeff Walker, and the Allman Brothers and in California playing with Rita Coolidge and Kris Kristofferson.
Jerry Jeff Walker recruited Utley to play keyboard instruments on Buffett’s first major label album, A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean, in 1973. Utley continued to work with other performers in the mid-1970s while appearing on Buffett’s subsequent albums until Buffett’s 1977 breakout Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes when he joined the Coral Reefer Band full-time.
Utley has gone on to produce or co-produce a number of Buffett albums beginning with One Particular Harbour in 1983. He has toured with the Coral Reefers ever since.
During the song “Volcano,” Utley’s name is mentioned. Right before the first solo, Jimmy Buffett says “Mr. Utley.” This leads into the solo.
- Robert Greenidge & Michael Utley (as Club Trini). Mad MusicMCA 5695. (1986). re-released on CD (11/05).
- Robert Greenidge & Michael Utley (as Club Trini). Jubilee (1987). re-released on CD (12/05).
- Robert Greenidge & Michael Utley (as Club Trini). Heat (1988).
- Robert Greenidge & Michael Utley (as Club Trini). Club Trini. (1996).
- Robert Greenidge & Michael Utley (as Club Trini). Back in Town. (1999).
- Robert Greenidge & Michael Utley (as Club Trini). Margarita Cafe: Late Night Live. (2000).
- Steve Eddington. “His Attitude about Music Hasn’t Changed.”[permanent dead link]. Front Porch Magazine. July 2007. Accessed 1 October 2007.
- Brian Berusch. “Passing Through Town… Jimmy Buffett’s Longtime Keyboardist, Michael Utley”. Bon Hawaii. September 2009. Accessed 30 June 2016.
- “Michael Utley”. Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame. Accessed 30 June 2016.
- Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). “Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire”. The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2019.