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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Concert Bootlegger You Never Heard Of And His Recordings That Were Superior To Offical Recordings

Millard earned his “Mike the Mike” nickname by taping now-legendary shows by some of the biggest names in 1970s rock music. 

(Note: This stuff is copied (bootlegged :) from several sources across the net) 

  Whilst a few soundboard tapes have slipped through the tight net (often stolen from Jimmy Page of Led Zepplin), the vast majority of tape sources for the shows that we enjoy were recorded in the audience by enterprising individuals.

" The fan recording of a concert is really an extension of taking snapshots of your heroes. Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s recordable media was just making its way into households as a consumer electronic device, either an expensive reel-to-reel deck or a convenient cassette recording deck. Just imagine sneaking one of those into a concert these days. More likely, the stealth recorder of choice today would be a mini-disc recorder or your cell phone…small enough to fit your pocket. "

These people took a big risk, because if they were caught their recording equipment would often be smashed to pieces, sometimes by Led Zeppelin's manager Peter Grant, or by road manager Richard Cole or one of his cohorts.

 It was therefore often a big risk to smuggle recording equipment into a venue.

Because of these heroic efforts many great shows are now enjoyed in superb sound ( and many can also be heard in not so good sound too).

Many purists prefer a really good audience recording to a soundboard tape, the latter is often sterile and lacks atmosphere.

For Millard, taping concerts was his life.

 "His recordings are much sought after for their quality - capturing the expanse of the stage plus the
great ambience of the halls. His close proximity eliminated any echo from his recordings. All the instruments recorded right off the front speakers. Plant’s voice is crystal clear. But Millard had a habit of marking his tapes when he copied them for another collector or fan. 

He would, for instance, lower the levels when transferring the audio to a VHS tape or lower the volume in mid-song when making a cassette copy. It has been said he detested bootleggers who pressed up his recordings onto vinyl or CD to sell. To that end, he kept a log of all the trades he made with clear indications of what markings he did to the tapes. 

That way, he knew which of his trades were sent to bootleggers.  He worked as a custodian in a public school. In a fit of depression, he committed suicide in 1990. His friends say he destroyed all copies of his Led Zeppelin recordings. What has survived are the first generation copies he made and shared freely with other Zep fans. These are what are now being traded back and forth."

 A perpetual recluse, Mike obsessed over his tapes and their destinies.

 But in 1990, it all came to a tragic end.

 The tale of Mike Millard is one that has been whispered in underground circles for decades, perhaps now it’s time for him to receive the recognition he never saw in his lifetime. 

Mike Millard, nicknamed "Mike The Mike" was an avid concert taper in the 1970s and 1980s, recording mostly Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones concerts in California, especially at the Los Angeles Forum. He taped virtually every show at the Forum from 1974 to 1980. Many of his recordings found their way into the hands of bootleggers who sold Millard's work to fans.

Starting with a basic mono recorder in 1974, Millard upgraded to a Nakamichi stereo recorder with AKG Acoustics microphones for the 1975 Led Zeppelin shows in the area. He often used a wheelchair to conceal his equipment, pretending to be disabled. Unlike most 1970s audience bootlegs, Millard's recordings are noted for their great sound quality, and are to this day considered some of the finest audio bootlegs available.

Millard's recording of the Led Zeppelin concert on June 21, 1977 at the Forum (allegedly taped from row number six) was released under the title Listen To This Eddie, and remains one of the best-known Led Zeppelin bootlegs. His recording of the opening number from the concert, "The Song Remains The Same", was included in the promos menu of the Led Zeppelin DVD.

Millard was never behind the sale of bootlegs and was openly against the illegal sale of his recordings - like many audience tapers today.

Millard allegedly suffered from severe depression, and committed suicide in 1990.

 " Millard the guy who taped all the 1969 West Coast shows including LIVE and SAN DIEGO?
  I used to know a girl, Andrea I think was her name, that owned a record store in Anaheim, California called BEGGAR'S BANQUET and she used to be the Girl Friend of the guy who taped all those shows. Later on she married this guy Matt from the East Coast and then CBS (actually SPRINGSTEEN and CHEAP TRICK) sued them and their store for selling Boots - ROLLING STONE had a big article on the law suit and what went down in court, they got reamed."

Mike's Recording List 

There has been some debate about Mike Millard recordings aside from Led Zeppelin. This is from interview with someone who used to trade with Mike Millard between 1987-1990. 

Q. What other bands did Mike record beside Led Zeppelin?
A. Tons. Pink Floyd in 1975, many Yes shows, Who shows, the Rolling Stones, & Jethro Tull. Basically everyone who came to the LA Forum in the years 1974-1980s, then occasionally taping after that, ie the Who in 1989, Plant in 1990, etc. He originally used a mono recorder in 1974, then got his portable Nakamichi tape recorder and AKG microphones in 1975 for the Zep shows.

Q. How was the tape intentionally messed up?
A. He would put a marking in a song somewhere like a volume fluctuation and then keep a log book of every copy he sent out and who's copy had what markings.

Q. Did he give tape covers to the bootleg companies?

A. Never, he hated boot companies. Every boot that was made was without his approval.

Q. Any idea how much he sold tapes for to the bootleggers?
A. He didn't. He never sold a tape, and certainly never intentionally gave one out to the boot companies. He blew a gasket when "For Badge Holders Only" came out.

Q. Was his wheelchair due to an illness or an injury?
A. As far as I know, it was a prop for taping.

Q. How old was he in 1977?
A. He was in his twenties in 1977.

Q. With whom did he go to concerts?
A. I am not sure on this one, I know he had a few "helpers"

Q. What was his goal in recording concerts?
A. Making the best quality recordings one could make. He was also very protective of his tapes, and any tape he traded out was marked in a secret way to identify that tape if it was put onto a bootleg. He also used Dolby B and played back with it off to boost the high end, but it also increased the hiss on many of his masters.

Q. How did he love music? What other ways did he show his love for music?
A. When he sent tapes out, he would decorate the cases with colours, labels, and Xeroxes of his ticket stubs.

Q. Did he ever meet any musicians?
A. No idea here, he was a little reclusive.

Q. Any other biographical information that would be OK to know: What education did he get?

A. He was living at home with his mother. He worked as a custodian at a high school (nothing glamorous here)
It's my understanding that his master tapes are now in the possession of his family.

Q. Do they intend ever to do anything with them other than keep them?
A. No, I had a friend who knew him very well, go to his mother after his death and try to help her organize them and pack them, but she would not let him into the room where they were. As far as I know, they are still in the room he was living in during the last years of his life. - taken from a Zeppelin fan site.

Millard's recording of the Led Zeppelin concert on June 21, 1977 at the Forum (allegedly taped from row number six) was released under the title Listen To This Eddie, and remains one of the best-known Led Zeppelin bootlegs.

 His recording of the opening number from the concert, "The Song Remains The Same", was included in the promos menu of the Led Zeppelin DVD. Millard recorded all of the Rolling Stones 1975 shows at the LA Forum, and his recording of the Sunday, June 13, 1975 show (titled 'LA Friday') has become one of the most widely spread recordings of a Rolling Stones concert.

1975 was quite a year for live show tapers and bootleggers. Led Zeppelin toured from January to March, Pink Floyd started their in April, the Wizardo label started churning out titles in the middle of the year, as did another massive Rolling Stones North American Tour. Again, Vicky Vinyl was able to secure copies of excellent audience recordings made by local concert taper Mike Millard, who worked in the Audio Visual Dept. at Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC) in Orange County, CA.

“Part two” especially clearly shows Vicky Vinyl’s love for the band in every detail and stands high above any output from most of the contemporary bootleggers at that time. This material has since been officially released by the band as a download – under Vicky’s chosen title L.A. Friday to boot! – and subsequently bootlegged on vinyl again from the FLAC files

The recorder model used by Mike Millard from 1975 onwards.

 Not much is known about Mike and the same information is usually copied across the web sites that mention him. The following blog post was written by someone who actually knew him.
Setting the Record Straight:

"Mike Millard was a close friend, and he had three with whom he regularly attended shows with.
His other two close friends, Jim R. and Ed F., were both top quality photographers, routinely sitting in the first few rows of L.A. area shows during the mid to late 1970's, when cameras were permitted.
Mike was victim to serious illness, which will not be addressed here.

Mike was employed on the staff of the Audio Visual Dept. at Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC) in Orange County, CA, close to his family home in Placentia, CA.

Mike was in a court battle with his employer involving matters not to be addressed here.
Mike's star contact, I'm fairly sure, was limited to meeting Peter Gabriel (during his solo years, after a concert in Orange County, CA) where they talked for a fair amount of time regarding the high quality of the Nakamichi portable cassette recorders.

Mike had absolutely NO car issues on March 12, 1975. The problems involved with his taping of this show were due to operational failure.

Mike's seat locations, critical to the sound of audience tapes, was based on his efforts, not provided to him on the basis of any wheel chair!

 I met Mike at this show, as his tape recorder failed and mine didn't."

List of shows known to have been taped by Mike Millard:
Eric Clapton – Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre, Laguna Hills, CA 23 September 1988

Rush – Convention Center, Anaheim, CA – 16 June 1981
Yes – October 6, 1978, Inglewood, CA, Great Western Forum
Yes – October 5, 1978, Inglewood, CA, Great Western Forum
Kansas – Arena – Long Beach, CA – December 31, 1977
Yes – Long Beach Arena, CA – September 26, 1977
Yes – The Forum, Inglewood, CA – September 24, 1977
Yes – The Forum, Inglewood, CA – September 23, 1977
Led Zeppelin – The Forum, Inglewood, CA  June 27, 1977
Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin 1977-06-25 , Inglewood Forum, CA
Led Zeppelin – 1977/06/23 The Forum, Inglewood, CA     For Badge Holders Only / Part Two
Led Zeppelin – The Forum, Inglewood, CA  1977-6-21     Listen To This Eddie
Led Zeppelin – 1977-6-19 San Diego, CA
Wings – 1976-06-23 The Forum, Inglewood, CA        Wings From the Wings
Eric Clapton – LA August 14, 1975
Rolling Stones – LA Forum, Los Angeles, CA, July 13, 1975       Tour of the Americas, part one, two, three
Rolling Stones – LA Forum, Los Angeles, CA, July 12, 1975
Rolling Stones – LA Forum, Los Angeles, CA, July 11, 1975
Rolling Stones – LA Forum, Los Angeles, CA, July 09, 1975
Yes – June 23, 1975, Long Beach CA, Long Beach Arena
Yes – June 21, 1975 Los Angeles, CA Hollywood Bowl               The Sorcerer
Pink Floyd – 1975.04.26 – Los Angeles Sports Arena
Led Zeppelin – 75-3-27 LA Forum
Led Zeppelin – 75-3-25 LA Forum
Led Zeppelin – 75-3-24 LA Forum
Led Zeppelin – March, 12th, 1975, Long Beach, CA, Long Beach Arena
Led Zeppelin – March, 11th, 1975, Long Beach, CA, Long Beach Arena
Yes – March 19, 1974, Long Beach, CA, Long Beach Arena
YES – March 18, 1974, Inglewood, CA, Great Western Forum

Here is a website that can point you to a free download of some Mike Millard recordings. 

The above link has a host of other
"High quality unofficial recordings"

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