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San Diego 1976 [Mike Millard Master Tapes via JEMS, 2CD]

The Lost and Found Mike the MICrophone Tapes Volume 110. Live at the Sports Arena, San Diego, CA; April 2, 1976. Very good audience recording.

Thanks to Mike Millard; Rob, Jim R; Barry G; JEMS; BK; Goody; and mjk5510 for sharing the show at Dime.

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Welcome to JEMS’ Lost and Found Mike the MICrophone series presenting recordings made by legendary taper Mike Millard, AKA Mike the MICrophone, best known for his masters of Led Zeppelin done in and around Los Angeles circa 1975-77.

Until 2020, the Lost and Found series presented fresh transfers of previously unavailable first-generation copies made by Mike himself for friends like Stan Gutoski of JEMS, Jim R, Bill C. and Barry G. These sources were upgrades to circulating copies and in most instances marked the only time verified first generation Millard sources had been directly digitized in the torrent era.

That all changed with the discovery of many of Mike Millard’s original master tapes.

Yes, you read that correctly, Mike Millard’s master cassettes, long rumored to be destroyed or lost, have been found. Not all of them but many, and with them a much more complete picture has emerged of what Millard recorded between his first show in late 1973 and his last in early 1992.

The reason the rediscovery of his master tapes is such a revelation is that we’ve been told for decades they were gone. Internet myths suggest Millard destroyed his master tapes before taking his own life, an imprudent detail likely concocted based on the assumption that because his master tapes never surfaced and Mike’s mental state was troubled he would do something rash WITH HIS LIFE’S WORK. There’s also a version of the story where Mike’s family dumps the tapes after he dies. Why would they do that?

The truth is Mike’s masters remained in his bedroom for many years after his death in 1994. We know at least a few of Millard’s friends and acquaintances contacted his mother Lia inquiring about the tapes at the time to no avail. But in the early 2000s, longtime Millard friend Rob S was the one she knew and trusted enough to preserve Mike’s work.

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Chicago - Sports Arena, San Diego, CA; April 2, 1976

We shift back to early years of Mike “The Mike” Millard’s legendary run of live taping to a somewhat unexpected pick, Chicago, performing in San Diego in support of Chicago VIII and even more so Chicago IX, their first Greatest Hits, released in late 1975.

Chicago doesn’t exactly fit the profile of Millard’s favorite artists or even those on the fringes, but Jim R explains below why he and Mike attended the concert. Chicago was undeniably big at the time; that Greatest Hits record would eventually go quintuple platinum. Even I was surprised how many of their songs I knew: “Saturday In The Park,” (I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long,” “Old Days,” “Beginnings,” “25 Or 6 To 4,” and the one Chicago song I always loved as a kid, “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day.”

Horn bands were having a moment in the ’70s, as Chicago’s peers included Tower of Power, Chase, Average White Band and, of course, Blood Sweat & Tears, whose songs I often confuse with Chicago’s, especially “You Make Me So Very Happy.” In concert, horns added a great layer to a band’s sound, bringing jazz and swing influences that can be heard in Chicago’s set, especially the instrumentals.

Mike and Jim were way up front at this one, and close followers of the L&F series know that’s not always ideal. Being too close can mean you’re missing the direct sound from the PA and instead picking up a mix of on-stage instruments, monitors and amps, plus some distant PA.

Couple that with the notoriously bad acoustics in the San Diego Sports Arena and you get a recording that Mike himself rated “Poor.” Millard applied the identical grade to The Who’s performance at the same venue six months later (Vol 60 in the Lost and Found series) and also Black Sabbath at Long Beach Arena in September 1975 (Vol 36).

Millardophiles surely know that the Sabbath recording is one of the most treasured of the series. Ozzy’s vocals were buried, because Mike was so close to the stage, but the guitar sound is incredible, and with mastering support to help rebalance the audio, the released Sabbath is a special document indeed. The Who San Diego ‘76 isn’t the same revelation and you definitely hear too much of the room, but it remains satisfying, especially for Keith Moon era recordings.

The sound of the Chicago capture is slightly south of The Who to be sure. Something about the loud dynamics of the horns and low mixes of the guitar and vocals makes for an unbalanced recording. But poor? Not at all. We did our best to help restore some of the lower elements and tame the loud ones, resulting in a fairly listenable tape of a band that wasn’t recorded at anywhere near the frequency of the Zeppelins, Claptons and Eltons.

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Here’s what Jim R recalled about Chicago in San Diego 1976:

I went with Mike Millard to the Chicago concert at the San Diego Sports Arena in San Diego, CA on April 2, 1976.

Mike drove the car to SD, and we were joined by a couple friends of ours, one of which, Robert Loya, was a huge fan of Chicago. Robert was the reason we went, mostly to record it for him. Mike and I were only casual Chicago fans.

But the bigger question that remains is: Why did we go all the way to San Diego, about a two-hour drive, instead of The Forum shows a couple days before which were much closer? The answer is: Seat Location!

We sat second row center for face value instead of paying high scalper prices at The Forum. Robert got us the tickets. The San Diego Sports Arena always had a laid back vibe compared to the big LA venues, making it very easy to get equipment in. So that contributed to choosing San Diego as well.

Of course the big negative with the Sports Arena down there is the echo from exposed concrete walls. You’re gonna hear them on the recording and a bit of us chatting at the start, too.

Teaser Alert: I shot pictures of the show, including a few of Mike “in action” with his famous yellow bag containing the Nakamichi 550 under his seat. In one of the photos you can see a mic head sticking out of his plaid hat. We look forward to sharing that with you down the road.

I hope you enjoy the show and artwork.

Cheers to my buddy Mike.


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JEMS is proud to partner with Rob, Jim R, Ed F, Barry G and many others to release Millard’s historic recordings and to help set the record straight about the man himself.

We can’t thank Rob enough for reconnecting with Jim and putting his trust in our Millard reissue campaign. He kept Mike’s precious tapes under wraps for two decades, but once Rob learned of our methods and stewardship, he agreed to contribute the Millard DATs and cassettes to the program. Our releases would not be nearly as compelling without Jim’s memories, photos and other background contributions. As many of you have noted, the stories offer an entertaining complement to Mike’s incredible audio documents.

Team Millard continues to include Professor Goody on the plus/minus cents, while our efforts are led by mjk5510, including cracking the code on a seriously unfamiliar setlist that the Web offered help in compiling.

Finally, cheers to the late, great Mike the MICrophone. His work never ceases to impress. May he rest in peace.


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AKG 451E microphones (CK-1 cardioid capsules) > Nakamichi 550 cassette recorder
Transfer: Mike Millard Master Cassette > Yamaha KX-W592 Cassette Deck > Sony R-500 DAT > Analog Master DAT Clone > Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 > Sound Forge Audio Studio 13.0 capture > Adobe Audition > iZotope RX8 > iZotope Ozone 8 > Audacity > TLH > FLAC

Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (320 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

Please Do Not Hammer The Links. Due to the size of some of the files, please be very patient when downloading the tracks. It could be that the server was very busy. The tracks should still be around. Please try again later.

Kindly email us if you encounter persistent problems downloading the files. Also email us if you have any rarities you’d like to share with our readers.

Disc 1
Track 101. Anyway You Want 6:31
Track 102. Call On Me 4:53
Track 103. Another Rainy Day In New York City 3:45
Track 104. Something In The City Changes People 4:25
Track 105. Together Again 4:48
Track 106. Just You And Me 6:28
Track 107. Once Or Twice 4:09
Track 108. Scrapbook 3:33
Track 109. Saturday In The Park 3:59
Track 110. (I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long 4:39
Track 111. Mongonucleosis 13:31
61 mins

Disc 2
Track 201. Old Days 4:06
Track 202. You Get It Up 5:53
Track 203. Hope For Love 2:40
Track 204. Beginnings 6:40
Track 205. Skin Tight 4:32
Track 206. A Hit By Varese 13:59
Track 207. Questions 67 And 68 5:00
Track 208. Feelin’ Stronger Every Day 4:25
Track 209. 25 Or 6 To 4 7:31
55 mins

Click here to order Chicago releases.

  1. 22 Responses to “CHICAGO - SAN DIEGO 1976”

  2. Interesting they played seven songs from Chicago X, which would not see release until that July. Still, fine show (if a bit distant by Millard standards) by a band in its imperial phase.

    By Tony Pizza on Dec 21, 2021

  3. I hear all. This band been castrated. No uns at all, big or small.

    By Swappers on Dec 21, 2021

  4. Some big meat in this group. Real biggies , Hoagies and trouser trout .

    By ELU on Dec 21, 2021

  5. Rumor has it this was a band of Big Uns

    By U L E on Dec 21, 2021

  6. Why the hell did they edit or cut out Make me smile , if you leave me now , and color my world ? Surely they did those . A group of non geezers for a change and we get missing songs . A real buzzkill .

    By Pat Grooms on Dec 21, 2021

  7. I got fucked backstage by this entire band during this tour . It may have been at this show , not sure . All very large guys . Long and thick . They took turns fucking me at the same time I would give one of them head . I remember all the pot , acid and Qualudes we were doing at the time , Also acid . Gosh the 70s were a wild fun time . I really miss those times . People are so uptight today .

    By Groupie Chick Traci on Dec 21, 2021

  8. Tracy , you are a disgrace to the current me too movement . Back then no PC police , you could tell ethnic jokes , and men were free to be real men and women loved it . No man haters in those days . Today a pat on the butt will get a guy jail time .

    By T J on Dec 21, 2021

  9. Whilst it is always nice to know I am living in your head (lots of room mind you) for free this trolling monotony is beginning to grate.
    Now do be a dear and fuck a way off and when you get there fuck off from there too . . . . .


    By swappers on Dec 21, 2021

  10. Where are the 3 songs that Pat mentioned? Especially miss if you leave me now . Great song from this time period. Can’t believe they did not perform it.

    By Boris on Dec 21, 2021

  11. One might be my dad, Mom fucked a lot of bands of all races, colors, and creeds.

    One day she fucked Parliament, Funkadelic, and the entire Mothership, all their roadies, groupies, and record label hangers on, and a few of their fans too.

    By DD on Dec 21, 2021

  12. Who starts these rumors ?

    By Jocko P on Dec 21, 2021

  13. jacko , who starts the rumors are groupies ( chicks love to gossip) . Men’s room sightings as well as whip it out contests , made famous by Uncle Milte .

    By Scaromouch on Dec 21, 2021

  14. Uncle Milte was undefeated in whip it out contests . He once defeated Tom Jones ( no small fry himself) in a contest . Tom admitted in once on the Howard Stern show .

    By Scaromouch on Dec 21, 2021

  15. Once in a Vegas sauna , a young whipper snapper had the bad misfortune to challenge Uncle Milte to a whip it out contest , get lost kid he replied, to which a friend said cmon Milte , just take out enough to win .

    By Scaromouch on Dec 21, 2021

  16. Penis is my life.

    By Scarydouche on Dec 21, 2021

  17. This is the real DD calling out the fake DD. You are such a loser faggt and I wish an 18wheeler runs u over for the Holidays. Trust me swappers u think too highly of yourself. Your just like a fart. One minute you fart, the next minute its in thin air.

    By DD on Dec 21, 2021

  18. You tell ‘em, DD! Unleash all of your impotent rage. You can’t do a damn thing about it. You may not have any balls, but that doesn’t that you have a pecker. You’re a bloated eunuch. Nobody is sorry for you. Happy Holidays!

    By HHH on Dec 21, 2021

  19. Isnt it long overdue that you crap in your pants. Then you can walk around like the smelly old bum that you are

    By DD on Dec 21, 2021

  20. DD (fake or not who cares!?) and still there you are talking about me still! Ha ha ha ha ha ha free rent in your empty little bonce!
    As for trust, I wouldn’t trust you as far as I could shit a piano!

    Season’s Greeting’s One and All you poor pathetic Fuckwit trolls!

    By swappers on Dec 21, 2021

  21. Your mom’s a WHORE, DD. A fat, smelly, inbred toothless trailer trash WHORE.

    By DD on Dec 22, 2021

  22. The joke is on them, DD. We all know that your mother is dead. Is she still in that freezer, that’s in your garage? There are some dumbshits here.

    By HHH on Dec 22, 2021

  23. Fact is, the band was not thrilled with If You Leave Me Now and it was not the lead single off the album. Was softer than even most of their ballads and no horns on the track. But Danny Seraphine, their drummer, insisted they record it and Columbia Records released it as the second single. It hit #1 that October and changed the trajectory of the band.

    By Tony Pizza on Dec 22, 2021

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