Pink Floyd did an incredibly poor job documenting their Seventies stadium tours, leaving it up to their fans to preserve them in video and audio form for future generations.
Unfortunately, amateur recording equipment of the era was difficult to sneak past security, let alone operate properly, and your average Floyd fan was a stoned teenager. That meant many Pink Floyd bootlegs from their Seventies heyday (with big exceptions like Oakland 1977) were hissy, grainy, incomplete, and very difficult to enjoy.
That’s why Los Angeles area rock freak Mike “The Mic” Millard is a hero to bootleg fanatics all over the globe. He used a phony wheelchair to sneak a Nakamichi 550 tape recorder into Seventies and Eighties shows at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. When the lights dimmed, he’d wire the machine to microphones connected to his hat and simply walk to the front of the venue. The trick allowed him to capture shows by Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, Genesis, Rush, Yes, and many others with incredible sound quality and little audience noise.
One of his greatest recordings is a Pink Floyd show at the L.A. Sports Arena from April 26th, 1975, which recently resurfaced on YouTube with even better sound quality than previous versions. This is six months before Wish You Were hit stores, so the audience is hearing songs like “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” and “Have a Cigar” for the very first time. There’s also early version of the Animals tunes “Sheep” and “Dogs” called “Raving and Drooling” and “You’ve Got to Be Crazy.” After a set break, they reward the patient audience with a complete performance of Dark Side of the Moon followed by an encore of “Echoes.”
Millard committed suicide in 1994 after years of battling depression, and internet lore says he destroyed most of his tapes. But many of them have surfaced in recent years and enterprising fans have been sharing them online. (Read more about Millard and their efforts here.) Jimmy Page even used bits of his Zeppelin recordings on the band’s DVD.
If Pink Floyd ever decides to create a Bootleg Series, they should get their hands on Millard’s master tapes — starting with this 1975 Los Angeles gig. It’s the band at the peak of their abilities as a live act and deserves to be heard as widely as possible. It would also be a great tribute to the ingenuity and perseverance of Millard, even if the whole “phony wheelchair” trick isn’t exactly ideal. In this case, however, the ends justify the means.