Milan (aka The Leather Boy)
"Milan (also known as The Leather Boy)" (born c. 1944) is an enigmatic producer,
songwriterand recording artiston numerous songs released throughout the 1960's, mostly though not exclusively in the psychedelic rockand garage rockgenres. He has released an LP and numerous singles for seven different national record labels and an eighth independent label (a total of at least 30 songs) under a variety of names: Milan, The World of Milan, Milan (The Leather Boy), The Leather Boy, and the Unclaimed. [ Entry on the single on [http://www.beatbehindthedykes.com/list01.pdf the Unclaimed] on www.beatbehindthedykes.com (a Dutch website). Retrieved 27 Mar 2008. ] Additionally, "Milan" has been the producer and/or songwriterfor a variety of artists ranging from the pop singer Lou Christieto the psychedelic rockband the Head Shop. Greg Shawthought enough of "Milan" to place his song "I'm a Leather Boy" as the opening track on two different albums in the Pebbles series: the "Pebbles, Volume 10" CD and the earlier "Pebbles, Volume 11" LP (which was also the first album to be released under his AIP record label). He has written of "Milan" as being "a cryptic artist who made a series of high image records offering himself as some leather-clad, bike-riding rebel, but so stylized he might've been imagined by Andy Warhol. . . . The only name to be found on these records is Milan, a name that also shows up as writer/producer on a big pile of records, from the early 60s right thru the end of the decade. . . . But who was he? No further clue has ever emerged. This is one guy whose story really cries out to be told." Liner notes, "Pebbles, Volume 10" CD. ]
Early Musical Career
Among the long litany of 1960s recording artists who went by only one name (at least for a period of time) –
Donovan, Jennifer, Keith, Oliver and Cher(not to mention Sonny), to name a few – Milan was one of the first, beginning with his 1963 single on End. There was never any attempt to be anonymous, however; his photograph was provided on both sides of his 1964 album, "I Am What I Am" and on the covers of both of the singles that he released as "The Leather Boy" in 1967.
Probably his highest charting success was with one of his songs that was recorded by
Lou Christie, "How Many Teardrops" as a follow-up single to his major hit "Two Faces Have I"; this single reached #41 on the Cash Boxcharts on June 22, 1963.On-line article on a Lou Christie & the Tammys collection "Egyptian Shumba", by [http://keepkey.yochanan.net/tammys.htm Harry Young] . Retrieved 15 Oct 2006. ] (Ironically, he had also intended to be a one-name performer "Lugee" – his real first name – until his first hit song was released in 1962 under the name "Lou Christie" without his knowledge or permission). [ [http://www.classicbands.com/christie.html Lou Christie] . Retrieved from the Wikipedia article on Lou Christie on 4 July 2008. ]
By most accounts, Milan's real name is Rick Rodell; he often works with another mysterious figure, Maxim, whose real name is
Max Ellen. For instance, the liner noteson his album "I Am What I Am" list the songwriter on all tracks as "M. Rodell", while the "I Am What I Am" 45 shows the songwriter as "Milan Rodelle" (which is presumably a misspelling). Also, the promotional material for the World In Sound reissue of the Head Shopalbum on CD mentions the real names of both Milan and Maxim; they are likely mentioned in the liner notesas well. [Entry on [http://www.forcedexposure.com/bin/search.pl?search_string=head+shop&searchfield=artist the Head Shop] under www.forcedexposure.com. Retrieved 15 Oct 2006. ]
The full name of this alias is further listed by some as Milan Radenkovich [On-line article on "The 1960s New York Garage Band Scene", by [http://members.aol.com/MidniteTo6/DFny60slist.html Mike Markesich] . Retrieved 15 Oct 2006. ] (or Milan Radenkowich), though the surname is rarely if ever shown on records attributed to him. Both Milan and Maxim were evidently music industry professionals working in New York, and some sources claim that Milan is actually a combined alias for both men. This appears unlikely, since they are shown individually on the credits for
the Head Shop(where they served as producer and associate producer, respectively, as well as songwriters and backing musicians).
Milan's identity is not universally provided, however. For instance,
Greg Shaw– who has reissued four of his classics on the LPs and CDs in the Pebbles series– has never mentioned his real name, saying only that Milan "evidently worked in New York and must have been a fixture on the fringes of the Brill Building-dominated studio scene". In fact, a December 1983 article in a garage rock fanzinerefers to Shaw's interest in finding out more information about Milan. [ Lamey, Charles; "The Class of 1966 Part II", taken from "Maximum Rock 'n' Roll" (Issue 10 - Dec 1983). As scanned in and posted on the Internet at [http://www.nicke.abelgratis.com/lamey.html The Groovy Times] . Retrieved 23 May 2008. ]
Album, "I Am What I Am"
The first recording attributed to Milan appears to be the "Innocence" single; the second is evidently an LP that was released on 20th Century Fox in 1964, called "I Am What I Am", along with an associated single, "I Am What I Am" b/w "Over and Over Again". The front cover "(pictured)" also includes "presenting a bright new star". The album's
liner notesdescribe Milan as "a darkly handsome, six foot, 160 lb. twenty year old" with a "European musical background" and continue: "Milan is popular music . . . he lives it, loves it and understands it and refuses to allow the tendency to copy whatever happens to be in the top ten at the present time to influence his work" (ellipses in the original). He also has a beautiful, melodic voice that is sometimes difficult to appreciate on his later recordings.
Although the authenticity and commitment to his music is apparent even at this point, the album is in the style of early 1960's
pop musicrecords, and much of the music bears only passing resemblance to the garage rockand psychedelic rockrecordings for which he is better known. As a result, this album, though scarce, is typically available for a fraction of the cost of most of the singles that were released in later years. However, some of the songs on the album, including "Runnin' Wild" and "Spellbound" have the flavor of his later garage-rock classics.
Later Recording Career
Perhaps in response to the slow sales of his early work, Milan moved on more interestingly to a variety of guises and bands, not to mention new record labels. Whether these new names are bands or pseudonyms is unknown for the most part. Some sources identify The Leather Boy as a band that is led by Milan; but on one single, the two names are combined, and the covers on the Leather Boy singles only show Milan, so this is doubtful.
Insofar as his persona is concerned, the moniker "Leather Boy" is certainly appropriate, since he is shown on several singles in a leather jacket. Anticipating his pose on the single "I'm a Leather Boy", he is shown on the back cover of his earlier album holding a guitar and dressed in what appears to be a faux leather smock emblazoned with "Milan" in stylized lettering.
Producer and Songwriting Credits
On his 1964 album, the
songwriteris listed as "M. Rodell", and on the associated single, the songwriter is "Milan Rodelle" (although the surname is probably misspelled in that case). Otherwise, the name "Milan" was evidently used in all of his many appearances as songwriter or producer. These range from writing a song for Lou Christiecalled "How Many Teardrops" for a 1963 release, to producing and songwriting duties on the 1969 psychedelic rockalbum for the Head Shop.
He also was the producer for both sides of the 1967 single "Bongo Bongo" b/w "Free as a Bird" on MGM (#K-13750) – MGM also released some of his own singles – for an obscure
girl groupcalled The Chanters. He was also listed as the songwriter of "Bongo Bongo". According to the programmer of the compilation albums " Look What I Found, Volume 12" and " Look What I Found, Volume 21" – which each included a re-release of one side of this single – "Bongo Bongo" "sounds like [Milan's] 'On the Go'. . . The Chanters have remained a mystery band as I've never seen this 45 on any compilation."Entry on the [http://www.geocities.com/dutronic/garbage12.html Look What I Found] compilation albums. Retrieved 15 Oct 2006. ]
Reissues and Other Sources of the Music
Milan was re-introduced to the world in "Pebbles, Volume 11" of the LPs in the
Pebbles series. This was actually the first album in the series to be officially released by Bomp! and was the initial LP on their AIP label. This particular compilation albumstarts off with both sides of a 1967 single by The Leather Boy, "I'm a Leather Boy" and "Shadows", while "You Gotta Have Soul" closes the album. The former cut is an exuberant garage rocktrack that features actual sounds of motorcycles in the background that even Steppenwolf eschewed, while the latter is a passionate romp that has a similar gritty feel. "Shadows" – a thoughtful meditation on the remains of a failed romance – is a marvelous psychedelic rockmasterwork that appears on the Pebbles box sets called " Pebbles Box" and " Trash Box" but is not otherwise available in the Pebbles serieson CD. However, "On the Go" appears on the "Pebbles, Volume 10" CD (this song also reprises the motorcycle sounds from "I'm a Leather Boy"). Greg Shawexpressed hope that an album could be collected of his work some day [ Liner notes, "Pebbles, Volume 11" LP. ] — which, sadly, has still not taken place — adding that "what he did with Donovansongs has to be heard to be believed!". The latter is a reference to the Leather Boy song "Jersey Thursday" on one of the rarest of Milan's singles. However, in addition to those in the Pebbles series, Milan's recordings have been collected on several other garage-rock and psychedelic-rock collections.
While not reaching the stratospheric level of artists like
the Human Expressionand the Outcasts, the original Milan 45s sell on a regular basis for elevated prices. For instance, between 2004 and 2006, the "I'm a Leather Boy" single sold at auction on eBayfor $68, £15 and £27. [ Realized auction prices report on [http://www.popsike.com/php/quicksearch.php?searchtext=leather+boy&thumbs=&x=30&y=8 www.popsike.com] . Retrieved 3 Jun 2008. ]
Bands, Aliases and Other Projects
* "The World of Milan"
* "Milan (The Leather Boy)"
* "The Leather Boy"
* "The Unclaimed"
The Head Shop"
* "I Am What I Am"; 20th Century Fox (#TFM 3149/#TFS 4149) — 1964
* "Innocence" b/w "Winter Time"; End (#1123) — 1963
* "I Am What I Am" b/w "Over and Over Again"; 20th Century Fox (#487) — 1964
As The World of Milan:
* "Cry, Lonely Boy" b/w "Luva-Luva"; ABC-Paramount (#10718) — 1965
* "Follow the Sun" b/w "I'm Cryin' in the Rain"; Brunswick (#55292) — 1966
* "One Track Mind" b/w "Shades of Blue"; Brunswick (#55298) — 1966
As Milan (The Leather Boy):
* "You Gotta Have Soul" b/w "My Prayer"; Flower (#100) — 1967
As The Leather Boy:
As The Unclaimed:
* "Memories of Green Eyes" b/w/ "Jingle Jangle"; Philips (#30430) — 1967
=Compilation Albums [ [http://comps.ugly-things.com/compsproject/bandname.php?&lifilter=1&sbandname=Milan%20%28The%20Leather%20Boy%29&sbandid=10450&&sboolwhole=True&ssource=related&ipage=1&lispeed= Searchin' for Shakes] on-line database, "
Ugly Things" fanzine (unless otherwise noted). Retrieved 3 Mar 2007. ] =
I'm a Leather Boy
# "Pebbles, Volume 11" (LP)
Pebbles Box" (LP Box Set)
Trash Box" (CD Box Set)
You Gotta Have Soul
# "Pebbles, Volume 11" (LP)
On the Go
# "Pebbles, Volume 10" (CD)
A Journey to Tyme, Volume 5" (LP)
Garagelands, Volume 1" (LP)
Garagelands, Volume 1" (CD)
Wavy Gravy series"
A Journey to Tyme, Volume 5" (LP)
Garagelands, Volume 1" (LP)
Garagelands, Volume 1" (CD)
One Track Mind
Winning Sides, Volume 2" (LP)
Quagmires, Volume 3" (CD)
Memories of Green Eyes
Garagelands, Volume 2" (CD)
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