Artist feature

Michel Rose

The Man of Steel

In Australia, we call him The Man of Steel … because Michel Rose is arguably the finest pedal steel player of his generation.

Michel has toured extensively with some of Australia's country music greats, along with being an accomplished session musician and solo artist. He has also worked on soundtracks for TV series and movies winning several awards along the way. 

An extremely accomplished performer Michel has music flowing through his veins and is a true master of his craft.

About Michel

Michel began his musical journey at age eight in his homeland of Mauritius, receiving a Dutch-made Egmond acoustic guitar.

The family moved to Australia when Michel was 14 and his love affair with guitars continued until he heard the instrumental break in Misty – and that was it.

He purchased his first pedal steel – a Sho-Bud single neck – and began practising, trying to get that same sound he’d heard on Misty.

In the late 1970s, Michel wandered into Landis Music in Park Street, Sydney and asked the salesman if he knew any bands in need of a pedal steel player.

Call it fate, if you will, but that salesman was Bruce McCumstie, and Bruce was very keen to have a steel player in his band.

About a decade later he joined Beaudesert band, playing alongside Peter Johnson, Robbie Brown, English John Green (UK) and Terry Philpott.

His first steel session was on 1981 Star Maker winner Leanne Douglas’s Don’t It Make You Wanna Cry, which won her the New Talent Golden Guitar the following year. He then played on each successive Star Maker release.

When bands were allowed to enter Star Maker, Beaudesert was a finalist in 1982, the year Lee Kernaghan took out top honours.

Michel became a sideman to the ultimate Aussie star when he joined Slim Dusty’s Travelling Country Band, touring with the king for the first time for two years.

Always loving session work, Michel was thrilled to play on Jimmy Little’s reggae hit, Beautiful Woman, which featured Tim Finn’s studio band.

When Jean Stafford entered the EMI studio to record her debut on that label, Burning Bright, Michel was there, alongside producer Rod Coe.

He re-joined the TCB for the mammoth Bicentennial tour and played on several Slim Dusty albums, in between his heavy schedule of session and touring work.

He played on all of Graeme Connors’ early albums, apart from A Little Further North, and toured with him for several years.

Michel’s distinctive pedal steel can be heard on Anne Kirkpatrick’s ground-breaking album Out of the Blue and her successive albums, and most of Lee Kernaghan, Beccy Cole, Adam Harvey and Gina Jeffreys’ albums.

When UK guitar guru Albert Lee came to Australia, Michel was more than happy to be sideman on his national tour – twice in fact and when LeAnn Rimes did her first Australian tour, Michel was in the band.

He has worked extensively with Australian film composer Peter Best on soundtracks for ABC TV series and movies, including Doing Time For Patsy Cline, which won an Australian Film Institute award for Best Original Music Score.

He also played on the movie soundtrack for My Mother Frank , which won the Australian Screen Sound Guild Soundtrack of the Year.

One of Michel’s favourite bands has been the Feral Swing Katz, which he formed with Stuie French after they discovered a mutual love of old western swing tunes.

In 2002, Michel was invited to the International Steel Guitar Convention in St Louis, Missouri. The Feral Swing Katz (with Felicity Urquhart out front) performed at that show and smashed all records, receiving four standing ovations, previously unheard of in the history of that event.

Michel re-joined the Slim Dusty Family Tour, playing dates in NSW and Queensland, and played on the live album, Reunion.

He’s also played on a single for kd lang, Our Down Will Come, which she performed at the Sydney Gay Games, and played in US country star Jann Browne’s Australian touring band.

Greg Page invited Michel to Nashville to play on his album, Taking Care of Country, a salute to Page’s Elvis fascination, utilising the majority of Presley’s TCB Band. And when Catherine Britt went to America in 2018 to record her first Universal release, Catherine Britt and the Cold Cold Hearts, she took her favourite sideman along.

Having long been based in Sydney, Michel and his wife Tracey made the move to the Gold Coast in 2016 where he’s in constant demand for session and festival work.

A prolific musician, look out for his cameo role on the big screen, in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis movie!

Author: Anna Rose