After striking up an unlikely friendship with Allen Collins while still a teenager, Mike’s first band, Helen Highwater, was both christened and given guidance by the late Lynyrd Skynyrd icon (who once gave him an eight-hour guitar lesson), and the bond deepened when the young band opened up Skynyrd’s ’87 Tribute Tour.
On soaring vocals, slide guitar, mandolin and baritone, Mike Estes is a force of nature. Jay Johnson delivers sizzling fretwork and supporting vocals, while the rhythm section of Kurt Pietro (drums) and Luke Bradshaw (bass) crank out the swing and sting with grit and grace.
Post-Skynyrd, Mike has smashed the Billboard chart with his co-written White Knuckle Ride single, and released two solo albums under his own steam – Driving Sideways and Brave New South – while remaining a fixture of the planet’s magazine covers and music channels on the strength of his prolific talent. Back in 1995, he was inducted into the Hollywood Rock Walk Of Fame, but with Skinny Molly, you sense he’s only just getting started.
Kurt has been Skinny Molly’s big-hitter on the drumstool since the start. Fusing the influence of players like Jakson Spires of Blackfoot and Mötley Crüe’s Tommy Lee into his own stellar technique, Kurt soon graduated from a bedroom wizard to a revered Michigan studio ace and a live powerhouse with early outfit Crystal.
Kurt’s skills demanded a ground-shaking bass talent, and in 2012, Skinny Molly’s rhythm section is thrillingly completed by Luke Bradshaw. Equally adept on electric or standup bass, and able to bend his talent to any project, Luke is arguably never better than when giving a fat low-end to Skinny Molly.
With Mike Estes in the lineup, some guitarists might feel the pressure. Not Jay Johnson: the band’s six-string stinger missile and perhaps the only player capable of standing toe-to-toe with his frontman.