There is so much information that I find interesting about Michael Wright, that I could almost write a sequel to this column but here goes with the Reader’s Digest version. I have known Michael personally for over 20 years and never knew his father was the Lead Singer in a doo whop group. The Los Angeles based quartet was called the Metalicas. If you are under 50 years old (thank goodness I qualify) chances are you haven’t heard of the group since they had 4 hits back in the early 60’s.
Other famous artists in Michael’s family tree include his first cousin Al Wilson, who was an American Soul singer best known for the million-selling number one hit, (Show & Tell.) “Al Wilson was always at our house while we were growing up,” remembers Michael. The last time Michael saw his famous cousin was March of 1998 when Al sang at his father’s funeral.
Michael along with his six brothers and sister were exposed to the recording business while growing up in San Bernardino, so it’s easy to see why he fell in love with music as a young child. Michael’s family moved to Palm Springs in 1975 after a doctor suggested the drier weather conditions would be favorable for asthma conditions which had plagued half his family.
You could say Michael got his first DJ gig in middle school. “Lunch time at Raymond Cree in Palm Springs needed some excitement so, I brought my 45’s from home and put a record player on the stage of the lunch patio area, I played my 45’s every day and my class mates loved it!” explains Michael.
It was in high school where Michael got his inspiration to become a DJ. Tim Holland was a DJ who came to the Palm Springs Pavilion to DJ a dance for Palm Springs High School after a football game, “that was the first mobile DJ set up that I had ever seen and I was blown away,” recalls Michael, “I gotta get one of these!” he remembers with excitement. Later Michael found his way into an all ages night club in Palm Springs, Called the Crome Parrott. The young budding DJ would hang out all night in the DJ booth and jump at the chance to fill in for the house DJ when they went on break.
Carrying a boom box around campus drew the attention of many students as well as James Jessie of Desert Highland Community Center and Mr. Bill Castle, both who would later nominate Michael to work on the campus radio station, KPSH FM 88. After high school Michael brought his “Traffic Jam” radio show to KPSI Power 101, (currently Mix 100.5). The show featured unique songs and mixes that had not been played before on the desert air waves and quickly became a hit with listeners. It was eventually called the “Saturday Night Traffic Jam” and became a launching board for much of the stations new music.
Radio opened up doors for Michael who was able to launch a promoting business and begin booking radio artists onto the Palm Springs Pavilion to sellout crowds. Working in the radio and records business, Michael was inspired to open his own record store in Indio appropriately called, Traffic Jam Records and Tapes. Michael would eventually leave KPSI and got to work for its competitor KKUU 92.7 in Palm Springs where he would put his skills to work as the events coordinator.
During his radio and promoting days, Michael still found time to work a few mobile DJ gigs and would occasionally find himself behind the turntables at night clubs such as Costa’s inside the Marriot Desert Springs Hotel and Red 74 (which is no longer around.) Doing mobile DJ gigs was a lot of hard work before digital music came along. There were the 12 creates of records in addition to lifting heavy amplifiers and DJ coffins. Michael confesses to embracing the new digital technology, “Thank God that this software came out, because I was going to retire from DJing in 2007, but Serato came out and I was reborn.”
Michael’s plans for the future are to keep the music going or as he put it “rock it until the wheels fall off!”
Written By: Craig Michaels
Musical Affair Entertainment