MITCH MILLER

Born Mitchell William Miller, 4 July 1911, Rochester, New York

Mitch Miller is a classically trained oboist who became an arranger, conductor, producer, and one of the most popular recording artists of the '50s and '60s. As musical director and producer at Mercury and then at Columbia, he nurtured and produced Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Frankie Laine, Johnny Mathis, Guy Mitchell, Johnny Ray, Marty Robbins, Frank Sinatra, and many others. Miller played piano from age 6 and oboe from age 12. After graduating from the Eastman School of Music, he played with orchestras in the Rochester area and then became a soloist with the CBS Symphony from 1936 to 1947. In the late '40s he headed Mercury Records' popular music department, where his biggest success came with Frankie Laine, including "That Lucky Old Sun", "Mule Train" and "Cry Of The Wild Goose" (all # 1). He switched to Columbia in 1950, where he led the country crossover revolution, having popular artists such as Tony Bennett ("Cold, Cold Heart", # 1), Rosemary Clooney ("Half As Much", # 1), Guy Mitchell ("Singing The Blues", # 1), Jo Stafford ("Jambalaya", # 3) and Joan Weber ("Let Me Go Lover", # 1) record rearranged country songs. He also returned the favour by leading country singer Marty Robbins into the pop market ("A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation", # 2).

Starting in 1950, Miller began recording with his own orchestra and singers, hitting # 1 with "The Yellow Rose Of Texas" single (1955) and with albums "Sing Along With Mitch", "Christmas Sing Along With Mitch" and "Holiday Sing Along With Mitch". He also hosted the popular "Sing Along With Mitch" TV show from 1961 to 1964. Miller's antipathy to rock 'n' roll is legendary (he refused to sign Buddy Holly to Columbia), feeling it was "unmusical". He is unapologetic to this day - dismissing even the Beatles' music as cobbled together in the studio - and still feisty as ever. Miller left Columbia in 1965. The label immediately signed the Byrds and Paul Revere and the Raiders.

 
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