BORN THIS DAY: March 1, 1904, in Clarinda, Iowa USA, trombonist, composer, arranger and big band leader GLENN MILLER!
Glenn Miller grew up in the early days of the Midwest, living his earliest years on the Nebraska prairie in a sod house. He began college in Colorado, but soon dropped out to pursue music full time. His career led him to play alongside the greats of the swing era, including Benny Goodman and Paul Whiteman. After achieving success at the helm of his own big band, Miller went to Hollywood, making films with such as Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, the Nicholas Brothers and the Andrews Sisters.
Then, World War II broke out. Glenn Miller was 38, and too old for the draft. He was at the top of his career, recording Number One sellers. But he felt impelled to support his country. In 1942, Miller enlisted in the armed forces, giving up his high paying position in civilian life. He formed a 50-piece Army Air Force Band and took it to England, where he gave 800 performances and made a series of recordings at Abbey Road Studios. Glenn Miller’s music was played over AFN radio broadcasting for entertainment and morale as well as counter-propaganda to denounce fascism. Miller stated as a part of his radio program: “America means freedom and there’s no expression of freedom quite so sincere as music.”
In December of 1944, Glenn Miller boarded a small plane at an English airfield, with the intention of flying to Paris, France for a Christmas radio broadcast to entertain the troops. The weather over the English Channel was terrible that night. Miller and the pilot departed and were never heard from again. They disappeared that night without a trace.
Early jazz critics found fault with Glenn Miller’s music, but he was loved and respected by the public and by his peers. Among his many fans, Miller could count George Shearing, Mel Torme and Frank Sinatra…and people say that Louis Armstrong packed Glenn Miller’s vinyl records in his suitcase when he went on the road. Miller’s music is still performed to this day.
Here, Glenn Miller and his Orchestra, with one of his many hits, “In The Mood” ~
– Robin Laurie Stewart