Christopher Milk – Their Last Known Performance At The Starwood, West Hollywood – 1976 – Past Daily Soundbooth
Christopher Milk is probably a name that may not ring many bells with music aficionados of recent age. As the tape box indicates, it was recorded on March 25, 1976 and was, for all intents and purposes, the very last live performance the band did, staging a one night reunion, calling it a day and going separate ways. Christopher Milk was something of a legend here in L.A. – a lot of hype and clever marketing; just about everyone who spent more than five minutes on the Sunset Strip knew about the band – they were, in many ways more famous for being talked about than actually seen. They came along at a time when Glam was turning Hollywood into a tornado of glitter and platform shoes. At the front of the band was Rock Journalist John Mendelssohn, one of the more influential writers of the 1970s – and you knew who he was if you read just about any Music magazine or newspaper being published at the time. That was the decade when Rock Journalism was coming into its own – and the audience had a voracious appetite for news of the comings and goings of musical genres and bands, and the massive number of albums being released on any given week. The Glam period was relatively short, considering what it morphed into after only a few years. But during the period of the early 70s, Glam was primarily being imported from the UK – and for all the really pivotal artists who embraced the scene, there were many more who took it to self-conscious extremes. Christopher Milk’s job – aside from providing a solid musical foundation, was also actively involved in taking the piss out of the pretense of Glam – turning Power Pop on its ear.
But a lot of people didn’t get that, and for all the hype and marketing the band were very adept at, they didn’t make much dent in the bottom line for their various record labels; sales. They achieved a certain underground celebrity, but it wasn’t enough to sustain them or to prevent them from being dropped by two major labels by the time they decided to call it quits in 1973.
So this performance at the fabled Starwood, was to be the last ever appearance by a reunited for one-night-only Christopher Milk in March of 1976. Rodney Bingenheimer officiated, and the band turned in a just-under-an-hour set. Truths to tell, the band hadn’t rehearsed together in over three years, so there are creaky parts, but live recordings are very dicey affairs anyway – sometimes they add a different dimension to an artist that enhances their careers – and sometimes they magnify mistakes and shortcomings of a band. After a somewhat shaky start they settle in – and even though there are some technical glitches along the way (the board engineer turned the tape machine off by accident during the opening number and a microphone blew out towards the end of the set) it does provide a historic record of an event during a period of time which has been up for scrutiny in recent years. And this tape, even though it has been forgotten about and thought lost for the better part of 40 years, gives a glimpse of what Hollywood Club life was like during what many considered the heyday of life on the Sunset Strip.