Mitchell William “Mitch” Miller

Charter InducteesClass of 2013

Mitch Miller was a Musician/Singer/Conductor/Recording Star/Record Producer/TV Star. As the head of Artists and Repertoire at Columbia Records he worked with many of the biggest recording stars of the day including Doris Day, Tony Bennett, and Johnny Mathis. His own hit recordings, Mitch Miller and the Gang, led to his hit TV show Sing Along With Mitch which featured Leslie Uggams and others.

Born in Rochester, NY and a 1932 graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Miller began his phenomenal career in music as a classically trained oboist and English horn player with the Columbia Broadcasting Systems (CBS) radio network symphony. On the night of Orson Welles’ infamous, “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast Miller was one of the musicians playing the musical accompaniment. He started doing session work and recorded with the Philadelphia Orchestra at RCA. When CBS bought the American Record Company in 1939 and renamed it Columbia Records he recorded with many prestigious groups, conductors and composers.

He left Columbia Records in the late 40’s for the emerging Mercury Records label, still working in the classical field, producing the Fine Arts Quartet. In 1948 he became head of A&R for Mercury’s pop music division. He signed and produced Frankie Laine and even conducted the orchestra on some of his recordings. The singer had a string of huge hit singles, including “Mule Train.” Patti Page, another singer Miller signed had a huge hit with “Tennessee Waltz.” During this busy and productive period he found time to play oboe on Charlie Parker’s most unusual album, Charlie Parker with Strings.

He returned to Columbia Records in 1950 as head of A&R pop music division. His keen marketing sense and skill in the studio enabled him to produce many hits from such stars as: Rosemary Clooney, Doris Day, Tony Bennett, Mahalia Jackson, Jerry Vale, The Four Lads, Johnny Mathis, Johnnie Ray, the New Christy Minstrels, Jo Stafford, Guy Mitchell and others.

Soon he began his own recording career as a pop artist and conductor. “Mitch Miller and His Gang” made large scale choral recordings in the 50’s. One of his many hits, “The Yellow Rose of Texas” spent six weeks at number one. All together “Mitch Miller and the Gang” had 19 Top 40 hits. All this success led to him getting his own TV show on CBS, “Sing Along with Mitch” with a cast of performers including Leslie Uggams. It was a big hit for several years.

For over 15 years Mitch Miller was a giant in the recording industry and one of the most powerful people in the music business. He left Columbia Records in 1965, but occasionally reappeared as a conductor of light classical recordings. In 1986 he hosted a tribute to his late friend Alec Wilder. His album sing along with Mitch was one of the first CD’s issued by Columbia and by the 90’s no less than ten of his albums were out on CD. For many years he could be seen walking on the Upper West Side Streets of Manhattan where he lived until his death at the age of 99.