Music Millennium opened it’s doors in Portland on March 15,
Founded and opened by Don and Lauren MacLeod and managed by Dan Lissy,
Music Millennium quickly became Portland’s first real underground
record store. Their focus was to carry all the adventurous, cutting
edge records they were struggling to find, as devoted music fans themselves.
Artists such as Frank Zappa and labels including Takoma Records were
sought out to line the store shelves in a very small 800-square-foot
space, located in a commercial building on the corner of 32nd and East
Burnside, far from the retail Meccas that lined the city. The store
was a quick success and Don MacLeod was soon able to leave his day
job at Tektronics to a full-time commitment developing the ideas he
had stored in his head.
Throughout the ‘70s, the store endured many changes as it moved
to a larger space in the building and eventually took over the entire
4800 square feet, which three different businesses had once occupied.
During the ‘70s, Music Millennium inspired Portland to be one
of the best cities for record stores in the United States. Everybody’s
Records, Black and White, Longhair Music, For What It’s Worth
and Crystal Ship made Portland a vinyl junkie’s dream.
Music Millennium also became known nationally and internationally as
one of the finest record stores to find import pressings and bands.
They started a mail order company called The Intergalactic Trading
Company and became the largest consumer import mailing business in
the country. Music Millennium also carried a number of lifestyle items
common for record stores at the time in a mezzanine area known to the
public as “The Upper.”
In 1974, they started Musical Offerings, now known as Classical Millennium,
in the small space where Music Millennium originally started, down
the street from the regular part of the store. Today it is known as
home to one of the finest, if not the best, selections of classical
music in the country, with many customers flying in or buying through
mail order from all over the country.
In 1977, Music Millennium opened its second location on N.W. 21st,
next to the Purple Earth Tavern, a well-known location for live music.
N.W. 21st was not really known as a destination to most of the public
like it is today, due to its fine selection of restaurants and shops.
In 1979, at the height of the recorded music industry, Don and Lauren
decided to sell Music Millennium. They felt the industry was spinning
out of control due to the excess of drugs and alcohol that surrounded
it. They sold the store and moved to property which had been purchased
with Tektronics money. Don built his own house, put in a nut farm,
and dug fish ponds.
The store continued on with essentially the same flavor until financial
woes hit at the end of 1983. In August of 1984, the middle ownership
was ready to declare bankruptcy. Don and Lauren did not want to see
their baby crumble, so they assumed $600,000 in debts, bad inventory
and the building...along with three other locations. The Rock Creek
and Tigard locations were quickly sub-leased in order to concentrate
on the survival and recovery of the lost customers, as well as to help
pay off the debts.
Twelve-year record retail veteran Terry Currier was brought in to help
run the show. This was a dream-come-true situation for Currier, who
had been a long time customer as he worked for a NorthWest record retail
chain called DJ’s Sound City.
Over the next three years, with the help of the strong professional
relationships Don MacLeod and Terry Currier had built within the
recorded music industry, the debts were paid off. The financial
in those three years was far from easy, but Office Manager Donna
Judd (now Cleaver) was an important factor in making this happen.
the short staff of employees and managers who had to do multiple
duties to make it all work. After Music Millennium was back on
its feet, Don
MacLeod moved back up to the farm on a full-time basis. In the fall
of 1995, he was diagnosed with leukemia and passed away in January
In those first 17 years, Music Millennium saw solid upward growth.
They were recognized by the industry as one of the finest recorded
music stores in the country winning the following awards: Album
Network Magazine “Independent Recorded Music Store of the Year” in
1993, 1997 and 2000; NARM (The National Association of Recording Merchandisers) “Music
Retailer of the Year” in 2000 and 2001; Terry Currier was selected
as “Retailer of the Year” in 1992 by Album Network
Music Millennium also became famous for its in-store live performances,
installing a stage in 1989 at the original location to kick off their
20th Anniversary. They host over 250 live music events each year free
to the public and help promote both local and national artists. Some
of the most memorable in-store performances have included Randy Newman,
Los Lobos, Richard Thompson, Cyndi Lauper, Sheryl Crow, Little Feat,
Weezer, Elliott Smith, Everclear, Sonic Youth and Soundgarten.
Digital downloading became a new route for consumers searching
for music at the end of the ‘80s. Since then, many recorded music
retailers across the country have shut down due to diminishing sales.
The keynote speaker at the MIDEM Convention in France this January
stated, “The recorded music industry is over.” Music Millennium
has been affected by the recent trends but plans on being around for
quite a while to come.
Music Millennium owner Currier says, “The recorded music industry
is in its worst shape it has ever been in my 31 years in the business.
We will find ways to continue keeping Music Millennium alive. There
will always be a segment of music lovers that will want to buy some
kind of format of recorded music. The industry forced vinyl LPs out
of the picture, but could not totally get rid of them. In fact, vinyl
has been experiencing a quiet resurgence over the past few years. We
expanded our vinyl section this year, dedicating more space in the
store and making it easier to shop. The key to the survival of the
industry has not been figured out by anyone as of yet. Today’s
generation has an abundance of choices to spend their time with than
people did previous to the launching of cable TV, video movies and
games, computers, etc. Music was so much more important to the lives
of the generations of people before then. What people grew up with
musically referenced to the events that happened in their lives. This
is not the case with most people of today’s generation. Plus
there seems to be so much negative energy against the recorded music
industry in recent years, even before Napster launched it’s free
file sharing site...some of it well-deserved. The large amount of people
who feel recorded music should be free have not helped in the survival
of the industry’s future.
Music Millennium is planning many events throughout
the year, including many to coincide with the 40th Anniversary
of the British Invasion.
It will host a number of live music events in March including a record
release party for Curtis Salgado’s brand new Shanachie release
Strong Suspicion on March 16. Starting on March 1, for 35 straight
days, one autographed item will be awarded; enter to win at both store
locations. Artist autographs include: Kim Richie, Ani Defranco, Jorma
Kaukonen, The Indigo Girls, Nickleback, the Romantics and many more.
Look for a complete listing of upcoming events at www.musicmillennium.com