Archive for June 9th, 2010

Sleeve Notes: The Outsiders Are Back

9 June 2010

“Mingering” Mike Stevens was a Washington DC-area dropout who would shut himself away in his bedroom and draw covers for all the albums he planned on releasing when he became an R&B star. In the decade between the late-60s and late-70s, he created more than 50 LP covers, complete with song titles, recording credits, and liner notes. His albums included soundtracks for imaginary films (that he, of course, “directed”), a tribute to Bruce Lee, and a benefit album for Sickle Cell Anemia. Mingering Mike drew his friends and family into his fantasy superstar world, creating albums for Joseph War, Audio Andre, and a host of other characters pulled from his life.

Mingering Mike was “discovered” when his hand-painted album covers showed up at a DC-area flea market in late 2003. He was eventually tracked down and his artwork was returned to him, although it has been visiting museums around the country ever since, while Mike himself has enjoyed recognition as a gifted outsider artist. His child-like drawings and enthusiastic superstar myth-making lend his covers an aura of youthful joy. Luaka Bop artists Kings Go Forth used one of Mingering Mike’s pieces (with some new lettering) for the cover of their most recent LP. Naturally, it’s become an instant collector’s item…