AMERICAN BIG-BAND TROMBONIST
Born in the small city of Clarinda, Iowa on the 1st of March 1904, Glenn Miller was among the most influential musicians of his time. As a boy, his family moved thrice: first to western Nebraska, then to Grant City, Missouri, before finally settling in Fort Morgan, Colorado. By this time, he joined his high school football team and was named the best left end in the state. It was also during this time when he became interested in what was then called “dance band music.”
Miller then started attending the University of Colorado, where he failed three out of five classes before deciding to drop out and pursue a career in music.
After quitting college, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dream. There, he worked with Ben Pollack’s band for a while, before heading to New York City where he found work as a trombonist and musical arranger. This was for the band The Dorsey Brothers. With them, Miller wrote the hits Annie’s Cousin Fanny, Dese Dem Dose, Tomorrow’s Another Day, and Harlem Chapel Chimes. Then, he would form an orchestra for the British band leader Ray Noble.
Miller would strike out on his own in 1935, but not without struggles. He had to form and rework an orchestra before “finding the right formula,” so to speak. In 1939, his orchestra would strike paydirt: a show at the famous Glen Island Casino in New Rochelle, New York would put Glenn Miller’s name on the map. According to onlookers, the show attracted an opening-night record crowd of 1800 people. The year would be topped off with Miller’s performance at the vaunted Carnegie Hall in New York.
His first hit would be the song Wishing (Will Make It So), which would be followed by another chart-topper, Moonlight Serenade. Glenn Miller and his orchestra would then be considered America’s best dance band. Other hits include In The Mood, Pennsylvania 6-5000, and the legendary Tuxedo Junction, which sold 115,000 copies in the first week alone.
When WW2 erupted, Miller decided to join the war effort. But he was 38 years old and too old to be drafted to fight. Not to mention, he was foregoing a massive paycheck by trying to join the Army, but he didn’t care. He wrote to Brigadier General Charles Young of the US Army, pleading to be accepted so he could be the leader of a modernized army band. By the time his career was over, Glenn Miller had three records inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and was considered one of the greatest showmen America has ever known.
Did You Know?
Glenn Miller disappeared without a trace on the 15th of December, 1944, after he boarded a plane to the then newly-liberated French capital Paris. Many conspiracy theories popped out, but the most likely explanation was Miller’s plane crashed into icy waters off the coast due to a mechanical failure. Nobody would’ve survived the crash.
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