While attending Beverly Hills High School, Mike began his musical career with the band False Alarm. After the band split up in 1983, he met Eric Melvin and Erik Sandin and formed the original line-up of NOFX. He has also appeared as a guest-vocalist on a number of other bands' tracks including "Peter Brady" on Screeching Weasel's 1993 album, "Anthem for a New Tomorrow." Other appearances include "Beware" by Randy, "Mr. Coffee" and "Lazy" by Lagwagon, and can be heard heckling and requesting "Free Bird" at the end of the Lunachicks song, "Missed It," off their 1996 album, "Pretty Ugly," which he also produced. Mike is the owner and founder of Fat Wreck Chords, one of the biggest independent labels in North America.
He was also the founder of the Rock Against Bush tour. The purpose was to encourage young Americans to vote against George W. Bush in 2004. Mike recently recorded the "Cokie the Clown" EP with NOFX, playing Cokie on both the cover of the EP and the music video for the title-track, "Cokie the Clown". In the video, Mike dresses as Cokie and puts white powder into his squirting flower, representing cocaine. Cokie then walks around Chicago squirting powder in pedestrians' faces, as chronicled in the song itself. The video was shot during the punk music festival, Riot Fest, in October 2009. Mike appeared in the 2010 music documentary "Sounds Like A Revolution" and also features as an interviewee in the "The Other F Word," an analysis of punk rock fatherhood. He also appears as a guest vocalist on the Dropkick Murphys single "Going Out In Style".
Burkett lives in San Francisco, California. He and his wife Erin divorced in 2010 after 18 years of marriage. They have a daughter named Darla. He attended college at San Francisco State and graduated in 1990 with a bachelor's degree in Social Science and a minor in Human Sexuality. The moniker "Fat Mike" was given to Mike by friends after he returned from college and it was evident that he had gained a little weight. He is of Jewish heritage, but is an atheist.
Fat Mike has made several appearances as Cokie the Clown, but one of his most memorable was at Emo's, a popular nightclub in Austin on March 20, 2010 at the South by Southwest festival. He recounted several graphic and disturbing stories about his life, and played several songs both previously released and unreleased. He also tricked several members of the audience into drinking tequila, before showing them a video of himself filling a partially full bottle of tequila to the top with urine to shocked reactions. The stunt was later revealed as a joke on NOFX's website, which showed Fat Mike switching out the urine bottle for an untainted one before making audience members drink it. Mike has since been banned from Emo's. Fat Mike has been credited with creating the phrase "Nawesome", which means not awesome. Since 2010 Fat Mike has owned a gastropub-style restaurant in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY called Thistle Hill Tavern. He has been into BDSM for years: he has had a dungeon in his house since 1992.