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 handphone. Small enough to fit your pocket.
But Michael Millard was different. He arrived early at concerts near his home, pulled out a wheelchair from the boot of his car and proceeded to wheel himself into the arena as an invalid. He managed to secure front row "seats", almost always front and centre. Hidden underneath his wheelchair was a Nakamichi stereo cassette deck hooked up to two high-quality AKG mics. Security guards in those days were probably unaware of such goings on.
His recordings were 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 vinyls or CDs 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.
Millard was active from 1974 to the ‘80s and was said to have taped shows by Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Yes, The Rolling Stones
, The Who, Jethro Tull and even Kansas. To date, we have never found a copy of his Who or Tull recordings. The non-Zeppelin masters are known to be in possession of Millard’s family. Hopefully, someday they will be shared again.
LA Forum, Los Angeles, California, July 11, 1975
CD 1: Intro - Excerpt from Fanfare For The Common Man 1:59/Honky Tonk Women 5:09/All Down The Line 4:11/If You Can't Rock Me - Get Off Of My Cloud 8:08/Star Star 5:03/Gimme Shelter 5:33/Ain't Too Proud To Beg 4:58/You Gotta Move 4:39/You Can't Always Get What You Want 15:41/Happy 4:04/Tumbling Dice 6:04/It's Only Rock 'n Roll (But I Like It) 5:47/Band Introductions 1:46/Heartbreaker 5:36
CD 2: Fingerprint File 10:00/Angie 6:15/Wild Horses 7:47/That's Life 3:44/Outa Space 4:59/Brown Sugar 4:05/Midnight Rambler 16:37/Rip This Joint 2:05/Street Fighting Man 4:44/Jumpin' Jack Flash 9:16/Sympathy For The Devil 9:50
LA Forum, Los Angeles, California, July 12, 1975
CD 3: Intro: Excerpt from Fanfare For The Common Man 1:50/Honky Tonk Women 5:26/All Down The Line 3:55/If You Can't Rock Me - Get Off Of My Cloud 7:48/Star Star 4:35/Gimme Shelter 6:31/Ain't Too Proud To Beg 4:47/You Gotta Move 3:23
TAPE SOURCE CHANGE HERE - You Can't Always Get What You Want 14:13/Happy 3:25/Tumbling Dice 5:06/It's Only Rock 'n Roll (But I Like It) 5:37/Band Introductions 1:43/Heartbreaker 5:25
CD 4: Fingerprint File 9:03/Angie 4:42/Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa (Sad Song) 0:38/Wild Horses 6:48/That's Life 3:19/Outa Space 4:45/Brown Sugar 4:19/Midnight Rambler 15:07/Rip This Joint 2:06/Street Fighting Man 3:54/Jumpin' Jack Flash 7:27/Sympathy For The Devil 9:42
LA Forum, Los Angeles, California, July 13, 1975
CD 5: Intro: Excerpt from Fanfare For The Common Man 2:00/Honky Tonk Women 5:25/All Down The Line 4:18/If You Can't Rock Me - Get Off Of My Cloud 7:59/Star Star 5:23/Gimme Shelter 6:32/Ain't Too Proud To Beg 4:32/You Gotta Move 4:34/You Can't Always Get What You Want 15:48/Happy 4:04/Tumbling Dice 7:24/Band Introductions 1:26/It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It) 6:36
CD 6: Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) 6:08/Fingerprint File 9:27/Angie 5:33/Wild Horses 7:23/That's Life 3:21/Outa Space 4:15/Brown Sugar 4:00/Midnight Rambler 15:3/Rip This Joint 2:06/Street Fighting Man 4:15/Jumpin' Jack Flash 6:47/Sympathy For The Devil 10:29
For his Led Zeppelin Work: