I heard this story on NPR recently and had to share.
Dori Hadar, a Washington D.C. criminal investigator, local DJ and record collector, was digging through crates of records at a local flea market and stumbled into the weird and wonderful world of Mingering Mike. The internationally known musician was unknown to Dori, and just about everyone else in the record business, and here’s why:
Mingering Mike was a soul superstar of the 1960s and ’70s who released an astonishing 50 albums and at least as many singles in just 10 years. But every album was made of cardboard. Each package was intricately crafted, complete with gatefold interiors, extensive liner notes, and grooves drawn onto the “vinyl.” Some albums were even covered in shrinkwrap, as if purchased at actual record stores.
Amazing, isn’t it? Hadar found nearly 200 LPs and 45s by Mingering Mike, as well as other artists like Joseph War, the Big “D,” and Rambling Ralph, on labels such as Sex Records, Decision, and Ming/War. There were also soundtracks to imaginary films, a benefit album for sickle cell anemia, and a tribute to Bruce Lee.
They were all created from the imagination of Mingering Mike - but who exactly was Mike, and what were these records doing in a dollar crate at a Washington D.C. flea market?
Folk artists create alternative personalities, but here’s an artist working with the music business as his muse. You can read Dori Hadar’s book for more of the story - available at Amazon and everywhere.