Mitch Miller – “Sing Along with Mitch”
Any child who grew up in America during the 1960s knew Mitch Miller. His hit television show “Sing Along with Mitch,” ran from 1961-1966 on NBC television. Miller directed, the orchestra sang, the lyrics appeared at the bottom of the screen, and “Sing Along with Mitch” made singing along to a bouncing ball the way to learn music in that era. The program featured Miller directing an all-male chorus, frequently joined by a few female singers. The community-sing-along was directed by Miller, whose stiff-armed conducting and jaunty goatee made him an unlikely and unmistakable celebrity, often parodied by the comedians of his day including Steve Allen and Stan Freberg.
Mitch Miller and the Gang
“Mitch Miller and the Gang” also produced a series of highly successful record albums for Columbia Records prior to “Sing Along with Mitch,” recording old standards and printing the lyrics on album covers so folks could sing along. While rock ‘n’ roll was in it early heyday, Miller provided an alternative for the older crown and their young children. My brother and I were lucky enough to have an older cousin who passed down to us her records from Mitch Miller and the Gang including the song “The Yellow Rose of Texas” which my brother used to play over and over. I can still hear the rich male vocals, female harmonies and military marching beat in my head after all these years.
Who Was Mitch Miller?
Born on the 4th of July in 1911, Mitch Miller started his musical career in high school playing the oboe for his high school band. He mastered several instruments and was part of several orchestras. On October 30, 1938, Miller was part of the musical accompaniment in the still infamous radio broadcast of Orson Welles’s The War of the Worlds. In the 1940s, Miller joined Mercury Records as a classical music producer where he served as the head of Artists and Repertoire (A&R). In 1950, Miller made the move to Columbia Records where he also worked in A&R, signing and/or developing some of the major artists of the day including: Doris Day, Dinah Shore, Aretha Franklin, Patti Page, Frankie Laine, Johnnie Ray, Ray Conniff, Percy Faith, Jimmy Boyd, Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett, and Guy Mitchell, to name a few. He also offered a contract to Elvis Presley, but declined to sign him for the amount Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker, was asking. (Wikipedia)
Mitch Miller & Bob Merrill
An insightful, innovative and sometimes gimmicky producer, Miller’s use (or overuse) of novelty material, including many pop songs written by Bob Merrill, raised the ire of some artists like Frank Sinatra and Rosemary Clooney, according to slate.com
Mitch Miller – Musician, Singer, Conductor, Record Producer, A&R & Record Company Executive
A musician, singer, conductor, record producer, A&R man and record company executive, Mitch Miller will probably be best remembered for “Sing Along with Mitch.” Long after “Sing Along with Mitch” and his recording days were over, Miller was still a popular guest at various large gathering where he continued the sing-along tradition. Even today his sing-along style is sometimes used in commercials or referenced in pop culture. Many consider Mitch Miller and his sing-alongs to be the precursor to karaoke.
Mitch Miller – July 4, 1911 – July 31, 2010
Miller died just a few days after his 99th birthday on July 31, 2010. During his long life and career, Mitch Miller changed the face of American popular music and left behind many cheerful tunes and a bouncing ball as his legacy.
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