Original formed as Mr Unique & The Leisure Suits, known later as Mr Unique & The Leisure Class, and finally Leisure Class, the band was started in 1977 by vocalist Dimitri Mugianis and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Glenn Johnson. Mugianis was a school friend of Johnson’s younger brother as the pair grew up in Rosedale Park and Detroit’s west side.
While influenced by notable punks such as The Ramones, it took inspiration from various writers and artists including those of the Beat Generation. The band was notable for performance art like staging which could include painted backdrops, animals – live or dead, and the ever present human statue know only as Mr Unique – who would wear a suit and stand still on a red spot on the stage with no reaction to the band or the audience. Because of the band’s style, it could be polarizing to concert goers and Mr Unique was attacked several times by young punks. Though, Johnson notes, Mr Unique never broke character even while being assaulted.
An early version of the band included Dave Rice, also of The Blind, Algebra Mothers, and L-7, on guitar. The group was mentored by Skid Marx of Flirt who helped to produce its first record in 1983 – a four-track 10 inch vinyl.
In 1983 the band moved to New York City making its debut performance in the city at the venerable CBGBs a year later. Eventually, it found itself involved in New York’s underground arts & music scene and changed its name in the late 1980s/early 1990s to the Leisure Class.
In 1985, the Leisure Class had a special homecoming special show at St. Andrew’s Hall in Detroit featuring a stage set designed by photographer Misha Gordin.
Due to a mix of lack of business savvy and personal problems, which included drug and alcohol addition and abuse, the Leisure Class broke up around 1995.
According to Johnson, by the time the Leisure Class ended it had about 70 different members who played in various iterations of the band.
The Leisure Class released two CDs in the 2000s collecting many of its unreleased recordings since the late 1970s.
In 2005, the NPR program “Day to Day” did a piece about the Leisure Class.
After getting clean, Mugianis became a notable advocate for helping other work through their additions with the use of ibogaine, a naturally occurring psychedelic. He’s been the subject of the documentary film “I’m Dangerous with Love” (2009) and featured on several public radio programs & podcasts including Crimetown (2018).
You can find out more about the band’s history at http://www.leisureclass.net