On the blog this week we throw the spotlight on Captain Anton Glenn Miller. If you don’t know the name, he was a bandleader during America’s swing era. Glenn was one of the best-selling recording artist from 1939 to 1943 and lead one of the best big bands of all time. Miller’s recordings include: In the Mood, Moonlight Serenade, Pennsylvania 6-5000, Chattanooga Choo Choo and many others. While he was traveling to entertain U.S. troops in France during World War II his aircraft disappeared in bad weather over the English Channel. Neither he nor his plane were ever found.
Glenn Miller – Early Years
Miller was born in Clarinda, Iowa in 1904. In 1915 his family moved to Grant City, Missouri. Around this time he bought his first trombone and played in the town orchestra. During his senior year in high school he became very interested in a new style of music called “Dance Band Music”. He was so taken with it that he formed his own band with some classmates.
Glenn Miller – Learns his Craft
In 1923 Miller entered the University of Colorado, but spent most of his time away from school. He would attend auditions and play all the gigs he could get. Glenn dropped out of school to concentrate on making a career as a professional musician. Later he studied with Joseph Schillinger and composed what became his signature theme, Moonlight Serenade. In 1926, Miller toured with several groups eventually landing a good spot with Ben Pollack’s jazz band in Los Angeles.
Glenn realized that, rather than being a trombonist, his future lay in arranging or writing music. He worked on several significant Dorsey Brothers sessions including: The Spell of The Blues, Let’s Do It and My Kinda Love. All of these featured Bing Crosby singing the lead vocals. Wanting to be on his own he compiled several musical arrangements and formed his own band in 1937. They disbanded after failing to distinguish themselves. Discouraged, Miller returned to New York. He realized that he needed to develop his own sound. By using a unique combination of saxophone and clarinet he found that sound and the Glenn Miller Orchestra was born. In December of 1939 Miller’s band was featured three times a week in a quarter-hour broadcast for CBS. Miller and his bandmates had done the nearly impossible.
Glenn Miller – Today
The Glenn Miller Orchestra is alive and well today. Their latest album is called, Live and in Stereo. It was recorded at The Simmons Center in Duncan, Oklahoma on October 28, 2014. It is available for purchase at this link.
This Week’s Podcast:
On the podcast this week we pay tribute to one of the greatest bandleaders of our time, Glenn Miller. As you might guess that means that the podcast will be quite melodic, but not to worry there will be a few stories as well. You can listen this Thursday at Ron’s Amazing Stories, download it from iTunes, stream it on TuneIn Radio or listen on your radio Friday night at 8pm Eastern time. Check your local listing or find the station closest to you at this link.