You could argue there's no more rock stars left in the world – and you'd be dead wrong, because there's still Micki Free.
A mixed blood Native American and lauded blues-rock guitarist, Micki is one of the last vestiges of the spirit that defines '70s guitar rock and he's coming to Gympie Music Muster for the very first time.
“I'm just going to bring you the real deal, baby,” Micki laughs.
“What I do best is blues rock, in my flamboyant style as they're saying in the Australian press, I read that a couple of places. It's funny to me that they say that but I guess that's the truth: I grew up in Europe as a boy, saw Jimi Hendrix when I was very young, and I've always dug the '70s – Aerosmith, KISS, The Stones, all those guys. Their rock and roll sensibility and they're swagger – I've always been a big fan of that.”
It was seeing Jimi Hendrix as a young boy that launched Micki towards a life as a rock guitarist, the experience leaving an ever-lasting influence that has made Micki respected by everyone from Gene Simmons, who first discovered Micki, to his good friend and fellow guitar-slinger Gary Clark Jr.
“Gary Clark Jr, who I love to death, he calls me the OG,” Micki laughs.
“But one thing he calls me that I hate is, he calls me 'the legendary Micki Free' and I'm like, 'please'. I said 'what are you trying to call me, old?' But it's been quite a cool ride for me, jamming and recording with Bill Wyman, Billy Gibbons – one of my favourite guitar players – Billy gave me a red Billy-Bo [Gretsch Jupiter Thunderbird] guitar. I'm going to be bringing that to Gympie to play that for you guys because it's such a sweet axe, baby.”
Micki Free is the type of guitarist other guitarists and musicians can't help but love, and the road stories he so freely tells read like a who's who of the rock and roll family tree.
“When I was young Hendrix was my guy but [Carlos] Santana was right next to Jimi,” he says.
“I finally met Carlos Santana through his wife who was my drummer – Cindy Blackman, who used to play with Lenny Kravitz; we could go on and on and on – and that was like five years ago. They say I'm in the Santana family.”
Despite his pedigree as a rock guitarist and the long list of high-profile musicians he counts as mates, Micky comes complete with an authenticity and affable charm that is as rare as it is hard to fake.
"I've played places like Hyde Park with Aerosmith and I played with KISS, Rush, Ted Nugent, so I know my way around the block but I got to tell you I'm excited to come play at Gympie because they have a blues stage that I think we're headlining, and I'm playing about three times there.
“It's going to be dope, man. If you miss it you're going to hate yourself because I'm going to be throwing down hard, baby, I'll tell you that right now.”