Michael Cristiano was born in Melbourne, Australia on March 25, 1964. There was always music in the house as his father would pick up the guitar after dinner and play and sing songs from the famous operas, or folk songs from the Southern Italian village of his birth. Michael started classical guitar lessons at six years of age and hasn’t put the guitar down since. His natural gift for the instrument saw him progress rapidly and by his early teens was already an accomplished musician. He continued his studies and progressed to rock, fusion and jazz under the tuition of renowned Melbourne guitarist and teacher, Ray Smith. He then undertook further studies in composition and arrangement, even though he was writing “little songs” (as he calls them) from the day he could hold a pen. A multi-instrumentalist, he also plays piano, drums and as he says “anything that has strings on it, except the violin. I play the violin worse than Jack Benny, only I’m not funny!” At fourteen he was already “filling in” for many dance bands on a Saturday night and usually singing the whole evening, as well as fronting his own bands “Rebel” and later “7th Avenue” formed with some school friends, playing Eagles, Steely Dan and AC/DC covers as well as original songs he had written.
His reputation as a guitarist and vocalist grew and by the early 80’s was playing on many recording sessions and singing on numerous demos and jingles. All the while, his interest in recording and production grew and he built a small recording studio in the family home where he worked on his own material and recorded demos for many artists. After graduating from high school, he studied architecture for a year, but was already playing three to four nights a week in various pop and jazz bands, so he deferred his course and concentrated all his efforts on music. In the mid - eighties he joined highly respected show band “Koco” playing guitar and fronting the band as it’s lead singer (along with various female vocalists) and this led to many engagements playing with the leading Australian and international touring acts of the day including Helen Shapiro, Johnny Ray, The Coasters, The Platters, The Drifters, Al Martino, Ricky May, Colleen Hewitt, John St. Peeters, Normie Rowe, Marcia Hines and Johnny Chester just to name a few, as well as opening for such artists as Dionne Warwick, Blood Sweat & Tears, Diana Ross and Tom Jones.
His particular talents were in high demand by many touring acts and he worked as musical director for numerous international and local artists, eventually gaining the prestigious role of musical director for Australian legends Judith Durham and the Seekers, performing sell-out shows across Australia and London’s Wembley Stadium and Royal Albert Hall. He also produced numerous platinum and gold-selling albums for the group and solo albums for the group’s members, Judith Durham, Bruce Woodley and Keith Potger.
In the mid-90’s he teamed up with country music star and close friend Donna Fisk as Fisk & Cristian, Australia’s premiere Country Music duo. Together they wrote, recorded and released three albums, spawning numerous hits and earning them a swag of industry awards, including Vocal Duo Of The Year, Album Of The Year and Artists Of The Year. In 1998 Fisk & Cristian achieved a chart-topping hit with their song 'Lara' and rocketed into the ARIA charts with their self-penned Australian Football League anthem 'Rock 'N Footy ' which they ultimately performed to a sell-out crowd of 100,000 people on the hallowed ground of the MCG Stadium (plus around 100 million people who witnessed the 1998 AFL Grand Final International satellite broadcast).
As well as being an accomplished musician, Michael’s skills as a record producer have kept him extremely busy in recent years and his name appears on the credits sleeve of many albums and singles. His state-of-the-art personal recording studio has played host to some of Australia’s finest talents and he has earned an enviable reputation for his consistently stellar work. In 2006, his contribution to the Australian music scene and tireless charity work led to him being announced as an Australia Day Ambassador, a great honour awarded to few select high achievers in business, government, charity and the arts and he continues proudly in that role to promote Australian music and musicians. He also performs constantly with artists such as Joe Camilleri, Ross Wilson, Lisa Edwards, Wilbur Wilde, Wendy Stapleton, Paul Norton and…the list goes on.