Mingering Mike is a legendary soul superstar and an owner of dozen’s of record companies you’ve never heard of. I first came across this legendary soul /funk master artist in an article published in WAXPOETICS , one of my favorite vinyl/music magazines. The art work of Mingering Mike was a fascinating blend of outsider/folk-art sensibility and collector mania spanning four decades. Mike was the Howard Finster/ Henry Darger of record collecting. The work embodied many of the fantasies and projections that occur among devoted music fans and collectors. A recent book, MINGERING MIKE:The Amazing Career of an Imaginary Soul Superstar, collects many of the artworks together with several essays and was published by Princeton Architectural press.

Some background history: hundreds of these invented albums, complete with liner notes, bar-codes, spine titles, and shrinkwrap were found at a flea market sale somewhere around Washington D.C. The mix of album’s intoned enticing titles like ‘Mercy the World’, TV Dinners of Mines’, ‘Bloody Vampure’, ‘Ghetto Prince’ and ‘Channel of Dream’. They appeared on the made up labels; Ramit Records, Puppy Dogg, Fake Records, Decision Records, T.T.H. records, Lord’s House, Sex Stereo, Spooky, Mercy Records and many others. Some of these “albums” even had hand-drawn grooves printed on the cardboard records they contained. There were also stacks found of hand-drawn 7″ 45s. Some of the albums contained their own hand written lyrics:

Better get hip Come off This Trip
Killin your Own Kind
Poisoning Our Minds
Stealing Without Concern or Feelings
Beating and raping our women
“where have we come?”
“Where have we been?”
“Where are we going?”
When every, everyday some what
We’re living in sin
Better get hip and come off that trip…

— From The Drug Store, by Mingering Mike

Its a story that has come full circle with the publication of Mingering Mike’s beautiful new coffee-table sized book. Work once discarded is rescued from oblivion and given a second chance. A star is reborn. Mike has now joined the ranks of visionary African-American artists such as Mose Tolliver, Bill Traylor, and James Hampton. This just in: you can now listen to vintage Mingering Mike recordings taken from old ascetate pressings he made in the early 1970s, hear several mind-blowing selections on MINGERING MIKE’S MYSPACE PAGE

I dreamed I’ve been to Paris and Rome
Throwin’ shows for people
I been everywhere
And I ain’t been nowhere.

–Mingering Mike

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