The Music Machine, Ron Edgar 2nd from left
The Millennium, Ron Edgar 2nd from right
A little more than a week ago the sad news came down that Ron Edgar, drummer for both the Music Machine and the Millennium had passed away at the age of 68.
Edgar, who had gotten his start as a jazz drummer, had played with Curt Boettcher in one of the iterations of his early group the Goldebriars, before joining Sean Bonniwell’s group the Music Machine.
The Music Machine, known to most as a one-hit wonder (‘Talk Talk’ went Top 40 in the Fall of 1966), were actually one of the deeper bands of the garage era.
They combine complex music, and dark lyrics, all presented in a fuzzed-out, garage-on-the-way-to-psychedelic sound that gave their records a timeless feel that makes them as exciting today as they were almost 50 years ago.
Edgar’s complicated and hard-hitting drumming was an important part of the Music Machine sound, taking a co-lead role in ‘Talk Talk’ and providing layers of sophistication to songs like ‘Masculine Intuition’.
Following the break-up of the Music Machine (Mk1), Boettcher enlisted Edgar (and his Music Machine bandmates Doug Rhodes and Keith Olsen) to work in the studio on tracks for the Sagittarius project. They were soon joined by Lee Mallory, Sandy Salisbury, Michael Fennelly and Joey Stec and became the Millennium.
The Millennium were even more sophisticated than the Music Machine, taking cues from all corners of the pop/rock world, and having one of the heaviest songwriting pools around right there in the band.
I’ve written a lot about the Millennium here at Iron Leg, but I don’t think I’ve ever directly addressed the majesty of the opening tracks of their sole LP ‘Begin’*.
‘Prelude/To Claudia On Thursday’ form not only one of the most sublime and uplifting medleys in the history of 60s pop, but are also a great illustration of the percussive versatility of Ron Edgar.
‘Prelude’, which opens with harpsichord and congas (or tablas?), is soon blown wide open by Edgar’s drums, with an emphasis on a supremely heavy bass drum foot, expanded on with jazzy work on the snare and cymbals.
Segueing directly into ‘To Claudia On Thursday’, you get to hear Edgar lay down a Brazilian beat underneath the heavenly, Beatle-esque harmonies of the group. The way the voices come together in this song – trademark Boettcher – is practically unmatched. This is one of those records you have to really plug into with headphones, and let the voices wash over you.
Edgar’s subtle, jazz-inflected playing on ‘I Just Want To Be Your Friend’ (presented here in its 45 mix) is also excellent.
Edgar went on to play on a variety of Millennium-related solo projects, as well as appearing on Bread’s 1969 debut LP.
He was a great drummer and an important part of 60s pop history, and will be missed.
I hope you dig the sounds, and I’ll see you next week.
*Though I have posted the Jimmie Haskell/Denny Doherty covers of these tunes
PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some soul.