Mitch Miller

From Academic Kids

Mitchell Miller (born July 4, 1911) is remembered as one of the best-selling recording artists of the 1950s and early '60s. He was an executive at Columbia Records for many years and headed his own male choir, Mitch Miller and the Gang, before striking out on his own.

Born Mitchell William Miller in Rochester, New York, he and his choir were famed for their "Sing Along With Mitch" television show of the 1960s, where the choir sang a popular or well-known tune while the lyrics scrolled across the television screen, the current position of the choir's singing marked by an animated ball that bounced from word to word. These were preceded by the instructions to "sing along; just follow the bouncing ball." Miller's biggest hits with the choir were "The Yellow Rose of Texas," a drum-propelled version of the old march, and "Colonel Bogey March", then enjoying new popularity from its use in the movie The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957).

One of the singers in Miller's choir, Bob McGrath, went on to a long career playing "Bob" on the PBS children's television show, "Sesame Street."

As head of artists & repertory (A&R) at Columbia Records in the late fifties and early sixties, Miller gained a reputation for creating records that used "gimmicks" that would help to make a record sell. While this did not always sit well with Columbia's more established performers (Frank Sinatra, for example), Columbia had an amazing hit-to-release ratio during that time.

Miller signed and produced very important Easy Listening artists to and for Columbia Records, including Ray Conniff, Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett, Guy Mitchell (whose pseudonym actually was based on Miller's first name), and Doris Day to just name a few. He therefore became the most successful pop music producer of all times.

Miller is frequently (and probably unfairly) referred to by rock music historians as an "enemy" of early rock and roll. While he did ultimately lose his job as Columbia head for not signing the types of acts teenagers were buying, Miller did originally attempt to sign Elvis Presley, but balked at the amount Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, was asking.

Mitch Miller is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music.

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