Milkov : Human Kindness Personified

Vic Vapourub interviews Milkov Magnesia, A&R man for the Anadin label 1944-60

VV: Well, let's start by asking you if you're sitting comfortably.
MM: OK (pause)
VV: Er...Are you sitting comfortably?
MM: Yes
VV: Then we'll begin. Tell me, Milkov - how & when did you first become
involved with recording in general & Anadin in particular?
MM: Well Vic, I guess it'd be around '41 or '42, I was at High School & I
took a part time job as a soda jerk at the corner drug store in my
neighbourhood. At that time it was run by a nice little old lady who only
used to open on Sundays. This made it kinda rough for me only having a
Saturday job. Then she went & sold the business to these two dopey looking
guys - and it was Ivor & Ed Migraine. Well, they were pretty good
businessmen y'know. Within a few months they'd increased the turnover &
established a new clientelle, mainly musicians working the strip. They started
to market Potter's Guitar Pastilles to session musicians - it was the first
time they'd been available on the West Coast. They did pretty well with them,
got popular with the bandleaders, players & the like. Then around '43 Ed came
up with the idea of selling special strong aspirin for hungover musicians. He
put a lotta codeine in this new pill, had it made to look like a tiny axe,
y'know & called 'em "Little Hatchet" headache pills. We had a banner sign in
the window that said "Little Hatchet for splitting headaches". So, one thing
led to another & slowly but surely Ivor & Eddie drifted into the recording
business. Ivor figured it'd be a good idea to get a slice of both ends of the
action, and seeing that by that time we had got to know most of the jazz &
R&B artists around town he figured we'd stand a good chance of being
VV: So that's when they started the Philosan label?
MM: Yea. See, we already had the distribution chain, the records could be
shipped out all around L.A. on the delivery trucks we used for film processing
- Eddie had an interest in that company too - & so all we needed was a studio.
VV: And that's where you came in?
MM: Right, right. I'd always been kinda interested in recording, & I'd built my
own studio over weekends in the bathroom at my Aunt's house. So we used that to
cut the first records in. So, without too much thought, we did a session with
a local band, Johnny Poultice & the All-Sores - & it was a hit. It got the
label established almost overnight.
VV: Why then did the Migraine Brothers change the name to Anadin?
MM: Oh, sure. Well there was a guy over in west L.A., an electrical contractor
called Phil Osan who objected on the grounds of infringement of trading name.
So we had to change. It was a real shame too, 'cause we were all set to go
into the 45's market with a new line of easy listening music for the
middle-aged market. We had a slogan & everything.
VV: What was that slogan?
MM: Oh, lemme see..."Philosan, 45's for over forties". Yea.
VV: So, the company became Anadin. Can you tell me about some of your early
MM: Well, about the first thing I can remember was a woman came up from Texas,
she was called Lola Anasthetic, a chiropodists wife I think, & she brought
three guys with her, that was Strychnine Hopkins, Chunder Smith & a junk-food
addict called Amos Heartburn. We cut a thing with Strychnine & Chunder called
"Can't Spew Like You Used To" which was pretty good. Then Ed signed Johnny
Snore's Three Tablets too, & they brought along their featured vocalist Charles
Drowse. After that it just took off. We started a subsidiary label called
Snore, initially for gospel groups.
VV: Who did you record?
MM: Oh, let me see, well, there was the Slumberdown Quartette, The Golden
Snooze Trio, Reverand Zedbed & his Forty Winks Choir...a whole bunch of them.
VV: But that label didn't last?
MM: Well, yes & no. It later evolved into an album label - we were the first
company in the USA to issue Steroid LP's.
VV: You also had the Vimto label
MM: For country music, yea. Oh, we cut some stuff with an old time fiddle &
guitar duo Farmer Cyst & Boyle Burstyn & we had a small southern hit with
"Silver-haired Mother's Last, Fatal Ride to the Truck Stop Boogie" by Luke
Ozade's Glucose Ramblers. But we pretty much stuck to jazz & R&B.
VV: Yes, getting back to the Anadin label for a moment, you had a pretty good
slice of the R&B market in the early '50's didn't you?
MM: Sure, we had hits with guys like Chicken Pox Waterford, Lynn Dope, the
Throbbins, & a guy called Floyd Drexel - him I remember especially because we
did a live recording of "Too Much Dixie-Roll" at Frank Dull & Gene Normal's
Flu Jubilee right here in L.A. That was one of the first hits ever written by
Jerry Stealer & Mike Lifter - Ivor had caught them shoplifting & put them to
work writing songs instead.
VV: THen the hits started...
MM: Right, we had a smash with Greasy Snack Boogie by Amos Heartburn - we used
the Maxwell House Band on that, then Eddie & Ivor went down to New Orleans &
cut some stuff there, they found Sherbert & Licquorice, the Sweet Hearts of the
Blues & we had a national hit with "Let the Enzymes Roll" & they cut another
thing called "Cough-em-o" with Gene & Eucalyptus too.
VV: Papa Athletesfoot cut "After Piles" for you in New Orleans as well didn't
MM: I don't remember him at all.
VV: But you must do, he's fantastic, great downhome harp.
MM: All you European guys are the same, aincha? You all go bananas about
some wheezing old back country blues man that don't mean shit & never did, &
you ignore truly important guys like Charles Drowse.
VV: With respect, if you could take your boot off my throat we can get back
to the story.
MM: Oh, yea. Sure...sorry.
VV: Who else can you remember?
MM: Well, there were quite a lot of groups - we had the Five Sneeze, the
Head-Throbs, the Sha-Wheeze & the Five Rennies. All pretty good, y'know. We
had a big hit with a song called "Diet In Drug Store No.9". Did real well.
VV: Turning for a moment to the Migraine Brothers themselves, they spent a
lot of time on the road promoting the records didn't they?
MM: Yea, that's right. They used to pack up the Edsel on a monday morning -
load it to the brim with records, suitcases, Women, Whiskey &...
VV: They sold magazines too?
MM: Yea, sure. They'd sell anything. Right up on through the fifties they
never stopped selling drugs. Nickel & dime bags, all kinds. Ivor was never
without a pack of suppositorys in his wallet. They'd come back to L.A. a
week later with an empty car & a full wallet. Great days. Whenever that
happened Ed would crack open a bottle of Sanatogen & we'd all have a party.
Amos Heartburn would sit in the back office & play all night for a glass of
Ribena & a packet of Freeto's. Oh man, what a time.
VV: What other artists did you record?
MM: Ok, there was Louis Synex & his Nasal Spray Five - they had a hit with
"Go Blow Your Nose" & then we did some recording with Johnny Fullersearth, he
was the cat that cut "Cruel Cruel Piles" for us. Oh yea, there was a guy
called ...lemme see, how did we bill it on the label? Oh yea, Clarence
Gargle, his Catarrh & Orchestra. He hit with "New Bonton Gargle".
VV: The one thing that interests me most is that you actually, as it were,
transplanted New Orleans in Los Angeles.
MM: Oh sure, we brought in Plasma Johnson, Big Tea Drinker, Earl Erizer to
cut some stuff. We gotta hit out of that wiht "Ping Pong" - we cut that
'cause Cosimo said how we had a lotta balls to do it in the first place.
VV: How did Lowell Balsam come to record for you?
MM: Through his manager, Bedpan Bentley. He'd cut some stuff for Clown
Beataround town & he came over to us. We did pretty well with "Chuck Up
With The Boys" & "Bowel Trouble" you know?
VV: Yes, he's very popular in Europe generally, & in Dulwich especially.
MM: Did you know he started out as a boxer?
VV: No.
MM: Oh yea, he was one of the first Rhythm & Blues men in the business.
VV: Yea, he just had an album issued in Sweden on the Bruise Boy label.
Anyhow, I know that Anadin folded around 1960. Can you tell me a little about
MM: Well, both Ed & Ivor were getting on in life some & I think they'd come to
a point where they'd just about had enough. So one day around 1960 they ran
into a guy called Chew Cudd. He was a candy-store owner, marketing a pretty
successful line in Mint Imperials & he wanted to break into the record industry.
He'd tried before but the crowbar he was using was too small & in any case
the warehouse was well guarded. So he bought the whole label, just like that!
VV: Lock stock & barrell?
MM: Especially the barrell, Ed & Ivor used to take turns in it.
VV: I see, well, we won't go into that.
MM: Ed & Ivor did! as often as possible. It was a kinda hobby for them.
VV: Anyhow, let's get up to date, I understand that there are currently
negotiations underway to lease some of the old material in Europe?
MM: That's right, as far as I know. A guy from T.C.P.** was here a little while
ago fixing up the deal.
VV: Do you know if there'll be any unissued material in that package?
MM: Sure, we recorded a lotta stuff that never got released. There's tracks by
Junior Dispirin, Big Sis Titus, Helen Fumes & Her Inhalers, Rufus Beecham &
the Pills, Little Penny Sillan, Sherbert & Licquorice, all sorts....
VV: That'll be nice. Very little has come out in the U.K. since those old
triangle centre Valium 45's by Amos Heartburn.
MM: Talking of him, I'm sure there's an alternate take of Corn Pad Boogie
lyin' around somewhere.
VV: That'll be nice.
MM: You already said that once.
VV: I know. I can't help repeating myself.
MM: Here, have a Rennie's & lay down until you fell normal again.
VV: Ta.

** Ted Carrol Promotions (General Manager: Dream Topping)