Sunday, 13 March 2016

Mad Mike Metrovich.......Moldies & Bootlegging.

Original 1st pressing sleeve.
Mad Mike Metro: obscurities officianado, collector of the wonderful and obscure , DJ at WZUM (Pittsburgh), occasional promoter (He apparently had The Sonics play their only East coast show during their heyday) and crate digger extraordinaire. The guy's record collection was legendary and his secrecy around them notorious. He would often remove band names and song titles or relabel  particularly coveted items, make up band names and song titles to throw off listeners and talk over tracks being played on air so as to prevent folk recording them to bootleg later.
Proving that there is very little new under the sun, Mad Mike was prone to producing the occaisonal bootleg himself. (He owned a suitcase case cutter, basically a machine for making what would be called Dub-Plates these days).

2nd pressing sleeve.
Up until the mid-60's the medium of the compilation had been more or less restricted to soundtracks of movies and in particular musicals but in 1965, Mad Mike embarked on a little project, releasing a series of compilation albums put together from his own collection entitled 'Mad Mike's Moldies'.....The Grand-Daddy of Born Bad et al, I guess you could say he was a pioneer of the concept and layed down a lot of the general guidelines which are still followed to this day by the folk who make fan-club releases, bootlegs and unsanctioned releases. His 'comps' included Garage Punk, Surf, Doo Wop and Rockabilly tracks in the main (Sound familiar ?) which would have been fairly radical and a brave move in context of the time, it being the mid-60's and the 'British Invasion' in full swing.....

Volume 2.
Another of the cooler aspects to Mad Mike's releases was that he released them on coloured vinyl, pretty neat for the time, (something which makes them highly desirable to collectors today) and he wasn't above being caught out either ! There are printing errors and labelling mistakes on various volumes and volume three was apparently blocked over a breach of rights ownership which didn't stop him as he went ahead and pressed it anyway.     
In 2008 Norton Records, those purveyors of all fine things rockin' released 3 volumes of  'Mad Mikes Monsters' which include some amazing liner notes as well as an interview with Miriam Linna for 'Kicks' which I'd urge you to pick up as it's a great read and way more informative than this little piece......

Below is a piece from the Pittsburgh Music History website and hopefully you'll be tempted to go and dig up more about this demented nutter (He once blew himself up with a home-made bomb aged 14)....
Promo poster for the Norton releases.
Pittsburgh DJ Mad Mike is known to record collectors and oldies fans around the world for his five album series of oldies compilations entitled “Mad Mike’s Moldy Oldies”.  His albums feature an eclectic mix of R&B, Rockabilly, and garage rock tunes by little known small label bands that he played on his radio shows and at record hops.  During the 1960’s Mad Mike was a DJ on WZUM in Carnegie. Pa and he hosted packed teen dances around the Pittsburgh area.  Looking to unearth interesting tunes, he rummaged from coast to coast through stacks of 45s buried in record store bargain bins and in the back rooms of record distributors.  With his keen ear he searched for unique never heard of wild underground records. buy 10,000 overstock records at a penny or two a shot.    He introduced his listeners to the punk songs “The Witch” and “Psycho” by the Sonics of Tacoma, "Wooly Bully" and “Little Red Riding Hood” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs of Memphis, and “Hanky Panky” by Tommy James. He often did not announce the names of the obscure groups that he played, making it difficult to go out and buy copies.  Cleverly he built fan loyalty as his listeners had to keep tuning in or go to his dances to hear those wild songs again.  No one else had his records.  To keep his songs shrouded in mystery he scratched out or glued comics over the names of the bands on his 45 records.  Some songs he played only once.  He’d announced "Listen in - you may never hear this song again”.
Mad Mike Metrovich, who was born in 1936 in the Manchester section of Pittsburgh, grew up in Overbrook.  Mike became a fan of Fats Domino and Big Joe Turner in the 1950s while he stationed at a Brooklyn navel base.   Leaving the Navy in 1959, Mike hosted record hops for a living.  He regularly DJ’d dances at West View's Teen Danceland, Mt. Lebanon's Lebanon Lodge, Castle Shannon's Linden Grove, North Park's Wildwood, and McKeesport's White Elephant.  He was so popular in 1964 that he drew 2,000 dancers to Westview Park’s Danceland, while the young Rolling Stones played for only 200 people next door.  In their leather jackets with their greased back Mad Mike’s fans danced on tables to his hand picked crazy new secret tunes.
As his popularity as a DJ grew, he landed his first radio DJ job at WPIT-AM in 1964.  He switched over to WZUM-AM on August 2, 1964 staying there until 1972.  He later hosted oldies shows on Sunday nights on WYEP-FM in the 1980s and on WEDO-AM and WWCS-AM,"   After a hiatus from on air work, he returned to WZUM in 2000.  Mike played two segments on his shows.  During the Mad Mike's Moldies segment he played floor pounding R&B and weird doo-wop tunes.  On the second Mad Mike's Monsters segment he featured garage rock, surf music, and wild instrumentals that would get his listeners ‘ movin' and ‘booty shakin'.  While the English Invasion ran it’s blitzkrieg over radio, Mad Mike introduced Pittsburgh to garage rock, proto-punk and rockabilly. 
Mike was a studio electronics wizard with a first class FCC license who worked as a studio engineer at several stations.  He troubleshot and repaired radio transmitters and broadcast equipment. He also taught local broadcasters.
During the 1960’s, Pittsburgh’s National Record Mart chain (NRM), first released Mad Mike’s Moldies & Monsters albums.  They were comprised of Mike’s secret songs whose identities had been uncovered.   Norton Records reissued Mad Mike compilations on CDs in 2006?  "Mad Mike" Metrovich signed off from planet Earth in Oct 31, 2000, leaving behind a broadcasting legacy and a collection of wild music. 

Big thanks goes to Stephen Jaye for some of the images used and check out the website for more info on Mad Mike.

Stay Sick Folks.

And don't forget to head over to the Trash Wax website for bunch of whigged out 
And here for a load more 


  1. Great article, thanks for posting it. He certainly led the way with his comps.

  2. I was a hugh fan of his in the 60s. His music was incredible. Had his Moldie Oldies albums and wish I had kept them but I did buy the Norton releases and love listening to those songs. Makes me feel 16 again!

  3. Hey you Groovies, here's a wild title to check out on Youtube. "El Monkey" by Saxie Russell. You'll probably have to live another
    100 years to find all the loony, insane 45's of oozing bopalacious Rock N Roll that are out there somewhere!

  4. Listening to Lux & Ivy from an old interview, talking about Mad Mike. Now I've got another krazy kat from the past to explore.