While in junior high school Michael sent away for a mail order Les Paul copy and a fuzz box. He also bought a guitar book and began learning the basics. He began playing bass in some garage bands and soon took over the guitar position because he could play Zeppelin tunes. In high school, he started to listen to hard rock; bands like Judas Priest, UFO, Iron Maiden, and Van Halen and began practicing a minimum of 2 hours a day. Then, he met Chris DeGarmo and the two of them played in several garage bands, most notably Joker and Crossfire.
After high school, he attended the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle where his studies included jazz and classical music, and where he learned to appreciate ethnic and improvisational music. Chris and Michael then met Scott Rockenfield and Eddie Jackson, and began collaborating on original music as well as some heavy cover tunes. They played some parties and roller rinks with different singers calling themselves The Mob, but were not satisfied with that direction. They then met Geoff Tate, and asked if he would be interested in recording a demo of some original tunes. In the late summer of 1982 they recorded four songs during the graveyard hours at Triad Studios in Redmond, WA. WThey played the tape for the owner of Easy Street Records and agreed to have the tape sent to various sources. A magazine in the UK called Kerrang! gave them a great review and the phone calls started coming. They decided to press a small amount of EPs on their own label, called 206 Records. They then signed a deal with Harris Management, quit their day jobs and changed the name of the band to Queensrÿche. The rest is just a work in progress..
Queensryche's long standing lead guitarist Michael Wilton has a singularly symphonic style in keeping with the band's blend of the modern with the classic progressive rock style. He insists on Peterson as the tuner to keep his signature ESP guitars in tune regardless of gigging or recording conditions.