Between 1968 and 1977 Mingering Mike (American, born 1950) recorded over fifty albums, managed several of his own record labels, and played for sold out concerts all over the world. Yet it was not until 2003, when a record collector stumbled upon his work at a flea market, that anyone had ever heard of him. It was soon discovered that Mingering Mike’s career all took place solely in the imagination of a teenaged ghetto daydreamer in Washington, DC.
Mingering Mike created a soulful alternate universe in which he was able to express himself in the only way he knew how: through art and music, in fake intricately handcrafted albums complete with gatefold interiors, extensive liner notes, and grooves drawn onto "vinyl." Early teenage songs obsessed with love and heartache gave way over time to social themes surrounding the turbulent era of civil rights protests and political upheaval - brought even closer to home when he himself went underground dodging the Vietnam War. The album covers offer a glimpse into Mingering Mike’s fascinating and awe-inspiring career.
The book, Mingering Mike: The Amazing Career of an Imaginary Soul Superstar, by Dori Hadar, was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2007. In 2010, The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC, launched a traveling exhibition titled, The Record, Contemporary ART and VINYL. Curated by Trevor Schoonmaker, the exhibition included a selection of 27 records by Mingering Mike. In 2013, the Smithsonian American Art Museum acquired the collection of over 150 artworks made between 1969 and 1976. In 2015, the museum presented the exhibition Mingering Mike’s Supersonic Greatest Hits.