Biography by Jason Penick

Begin by The Millennium was an astounding artistic achievement that was largely unheralded in its own time. The 1968 album was a critical smash, but it did not catch on with the legions of post-Summer of Love rock music fans whose minds were being warped by the more assertive sounds of Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Promotional shots showing grinning band members dressed entirely in white seemed somewhat out of touch to a public living through the tumultuous events of 1968.

Like many of the other great pop groups of their era, The Millennium were overwhelmed throughout that turbulent year by real world events. That they broke up shortly after the release of their triumphant debut album was devastating news for fans of quality pop and rock music. Seldom had a group come along that featured five first-class songwriter/musicians all performing at their peak artistic level. Add to this solution a red hot rhythm section, plus a producer capable of crafting any sound conceivable, and the potential of The Millennium becomes apparent.

Guitarist and songwriter Joey Stec remembers: “Lyrically, I think we were right on it. It was a very controversial and very well put together statement album of the time, and the technical stuff that Curt did is still unparalleled as far as I’m concerned”.

Producer/arranger Curt Boettcher oversaw most of the band’s sessions, while effects whiz producer Keith Olsen sculpted their sound. Curt maintained complete control over both the group’s image and their dealings within the industry. As such, he may have inadvertently rubbed some industry bigwigs the wrong way. When sales totals for Begin failed to top the 100,000 mark, the group was called to task by Columbia Records A&R chief Jack Gold. (Begin had cost the label roughly $120,000.) While fans of The Millennium may deride Gold for his decision to drop the group from Columbia (as well as for his alleged assessment of their final single), it is important to acknowledge that Gold may have been feeling some pressure as well. Explains Stec: “What would you do if you had to answer to Clive Davis and your name was Jack Gold? I’d say ‘no more’ and that’s what Jack Gold did. I wouldn’t respect the man if he didn’t. I have no problem with his decision to pull the plug.”

(an excerpt from the downloadable liner notes available with the purchase of Pieces.)

Sonic Past Music brings you the demos and outtakes from Begin in the form of Pieces, and some post-Begin tracks on Voices of the Millennium.

Connections

  • Curt Boettcher
  • Lee Mallory
  • Sandy Salisbury
  • Joey Stec