Back in 1978 my own Galaxy Records was in direct competition with a number of other record retailers that during the booming late 70's until the 1980 recession knocked a large number of the stores out of business, eventually including my own Galaxy Records.
One of my main competitors that I always admired was the counterculture generation record store, Music Millennium. This store always had a funky 1960's underground hippie appeal, even though it was situated right in the middle of the affluent Laurelhurst District. I've remained a sometimes customer of this great funky 60's business that has survived since 1969. There were always great imports of T.Rex and other groups that I loved that I could always find at Music Millennium. In fact, the last Christmas gift that I ever received from my parents for Christmas 2007 was THE DOORS box-set, PERCEPTION, purchased at Music Millennium. Both my parents died within 90 days of each other later that year, so that last gift holds a special value to me.
At one time I had a strained relationship with Music Millennium owner Terry Curry, due to some newspaper ads I was running comparing prices, and Curry made an angry phone call to me one day to protest. But I still continued to admire his store. My own store had a far slicker persona than the funky Music Millennium, but I always loved that atmosphere compared my well lit and slicker operation. Music Millennium was always slightly dark inside, and always managed to have that smell of incense and hippie counterculture all about it while my store just wasn't as fun to shop at. My main draw was cheap prices. Music Millennium had both atmosphere as well as a large selection of great recordings in a relatively tight store.
Music Millennium did face some interesting challenges over the years. Since it's beginning, besides music, the store once had a huge stock of bongs and pipes to sell. And at one point when the tide began to turn against Marijuana use by government officials, during the Reagan era, Music Millennium was forced to comply and do away with the bong and pipe sales. You might have to ask what sort of counterculture nonconformists would bow down to government, yet Music Millennium probably felt that their main mission was always music, so why jeopardize that part of their business just to make some political point when times had shifted against them continuing to sell those controversial items.
But Music Millennium never lost it's antiestablishment appeal. During the 2008 presidential election they had plenty of anti John McCain bumper stickers to sell. Any good left leaning 60's generation-type certainly could still feel at home there.
Music Millennium certainly has good sections of all my favorite 60's artists such as CANNED HEAT, THE DOORS, JIMI HENDRIX, THE STONES, TEN YEARS AFTER, and even relatively forgotten groups such as THE FUGS or BLUE CHEER. The rare Cd versions of SILVER APPLES are there along with SAVOY BROWN and numerous other old time counterculture rock bands. No matter what you like with old groups, whether it be COUNTRY JOE & THE FISH or LEE MICHAELS, etc, you can usually find at Music Millennium, or they can get it if it's not out of print. It's one heck of a great store.
But all of this older inventory or pressings of older bands might just be part of what has gotten Music Millennium into their current mess. Music Millennium is still trying to sell to the aging 60's and 70's generation new Cds of favorite groups, when the problem is that the entire music scene has changed. Cds are less popular now than in past years, partly because many younger buyers now buy music downloads on the computer, or in some cases still use illegal downloading sites to shortchange the record industry and the artists. Add to this the recent serious economic decline, that the British Prime Minister is now calling a world wide "depression" and Music Millennium is struggling with a sales decline of about 50% in recent months, even despite Christmas sales. That's really devastating news.
This relic of the 60's survived the uptight Reagan, Bush and Bush-II regimes. Survived past economic slowdowns. But now a perfect storm of problems could torpedo this great 60's icon of a business.
The fact of the matter is that Terry Curry did everything right that he could to make his Music Millennium a perfectly cool place to shop for so many years since 1969 when this store opened it's doors. But now the economy as well as the music and the way that many buy their music has changed so much that perhaps Music Millennium might be doomed and not survive.
As a last ditch attempt at survival, the store is running a funny sale in which you sing a little song at the counter and you get a discount. It is a funky little typical Music Millennium quirk and just another reminder why this great store deserves to survive for many more years, but may not.
There are some bumper stickers sold around Portland by loyal Portlanders that read "Keep Portland Weird". Well, Music Millennium has done it's part for all these years. I wish Terry all the luck in the world to make his dream survive. Music Millennium is way cool. And I need some place to buy my HENDRIX and DOORS stuff.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!