CELEBRITY

Mike Whitney: ‘I’ve become a rock star… at 63!’

"I feel like I’ve bowled 25 overs after each performance."
Loading the player...

With his famous mop of curls growing wild and sporting his first-ever beard, Mike Whitney is barely recognisable as he grabs a microphone and takes to the stage to fulfil his childhood dream of being a rock’n’roll king!

“It’s so much fun,” laughs Mike, whose 27-year-old triplets, Fergus, Madeleine and Juliet, think it’s fantastic that their old man has started a crazy new career, just when his fans thought they had seen the last of him after he sensationally quit TV earlier this year.

WATCH: Mike Whitney dares a couple to strip off in a shopping centre on Who Dares Wins

“I was never allowed to grow a beard when I was on TV, so this is the real me now,” former cricketer Mike continues.

“I’ve always been this person, but you have to conform when you’re a TV host. If I never had to wear a suit again, I’d be absolutely stoked!”

Divorced bachelor and former Who Dares Wins host Mike laughs out loud when asked if he has any groupies, now he’s a fully-fledged rock star.

mike-whitney
The former Who Dares Wins host is living out his rock star dream! (Credit: Supplied)

“I’m 63, so no. There are no groupies. After every gig, we all just want to go home and sleep!”

Mike stunned fans in January when he departed Sydney Weekender after 27 years of hosting the popular travel show. At the time, he didn’t give a reason – saying only that it was a long time to do anything.

“I had the best hosting job in Australia. I got to travel everywhere in NSW, meet the most amazing people and do the most amazing things. People ask me if I’m going to miss it. Sure, I am going to.”

Now, New Idea can reveal the real reason Mike quit was to pursue his music.

“My sister Christine and I have always sung – she was disco and I was rock’n’roll,” he explains. “We loved singing at Christmases and birthdays, but we had no formal training.

mike-whitney-band
“We loved singing at Christmases and birthdays, but we had no formal training.” (Credit: Supplied)

I was in a garage band with some schoolmates when I was 17, but when I started playing club cricket in 1976, I left the band.”

Mike, who went on to play Test cricket for Australia, says his love of singing was reawakened about 15 years ago when his childhood bandmate reached out and said, “Why don’t we get the band back together?”

They did just that and the Mike Whitney Band was born. The band went on to do 200 gigs at pubs all around NSW before joining forces with legendary NRL champion, Wayne Pearce – who was performing in a band called the Big Hitters – to form the group, Oz Icons.

After quitting TV, Mike has gone on to form a new band, True Sports, which stars some of his famous mates, including musician Andrew Dawson, NRL legends Eric Grothe Sr and Mark ‘Spud’ Carroll, former cricketing stars Richard Chee Quee and Gavin Robertson, and Noiseworks bassist Steve Balbi.

mike-whitney-band
Mike has gone on to form a new band, True Sports. (Credit: Supplied)

“We all come from team backgrounds, so it’s just like we’re back in a team,” says Mike. “This is such high energy, I feel like I’ve bowled 25 overs after each performance.”

During every show, the band sings classic rock songs like April Sun in Cuba, Sweet Home Alabama, Taking Care of Business, Do You See What I See and Yesterday’s Hero. Each sporting legend also shares tales from their illustrious career. The band donates part of the proceeds from each show to the mental health foundation, Gotcha4Life.

And True Sports certainly pulled a crowd of young and old fans screaming for more when they recently performed at Hardy’s Bay Club on the NSW Central Coast.

“I’ve never been a songwriter, but I’ve now written 30 songs and we’re planning to cut a record,” grins Mike, who says he’s never been happier or healthier since he started rocking out on stage.

“I played in the golden era of cricket and there was a lot of adrenaline on the field. This is a different sort of adrenaline to playing a Test match, but I still get home and can’t sleep because I’m so wired.”

Catch Mike and his band, True Sports, at the Orange Ex-Services’ Club on May 14, the Saraton Theatre in Grafton on May 28 and at the Richmond Club in Sydney on June 18.

You can read more in the latest issue of New Idea, on sale now!

Related stories