Sunday, April 11, 2010


Born March 1, 1904 in Clarinda, Iowa, his name was Alton Glenn Miller.  Americans knew and may yet remember him as an American jazz musician, arranger, composer, and bandleader in the swing era.

The tumultuous years from 1939 to 1943 found Glenn Miller to be one of the best-selling recording artists in America!  He nosed-out other great bands of the era!  Miller's signature recordings include the sounds of  Chattanooga Choo Choo, In The Mood,  America Patrol, Tuxedo Junction, Moonlight Serenade, Little Brown Jug and Pennsylvania 6-5000. 

Tragically, stories surrounding his demise reveal, that apparently, whilst traveling to entertain U.S. troops in France during World War II, Miller's plane disappeared in fog and horrid weather somewhere over the English Channel. Glenn Miller's body has never been found.

(March 1, 1904- missing December 15, 1944)

Born to parents, Elmer and Mattie Lou Miller, the family moved from Iowa to Nebraska, then to Missouri, and finally, to Fort Morgan, Colorado. Through each move and with passage of time, Glenn Miller's musical talents took an irresistible step forward.  From his first mandolin to the high school band, Miller sought ways to nourish his musical gifts of remarkable talent.

Upon High School Graduation in 1921, Glenn Miller further pursued his love of music, theory and composition while continuing his College education. From Los Angeles, California to New York City, NY... Glenn could be found working with bands, the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra, Ray Noble,  as a trombonist and as a musical arranger. In 1928, Miller married Helen Burger married his College sweetheart!

1934 found Miller first recording under his own name, while still working with the Noble orchestra. After an initial, less than successful attempt in 1937 forming a band, the first real engagement with an all new Glenn Miller Orchestra was in 1938, Glen Island Casino!

1939 and 1942 found, Glenn Miller and his Orchestra enjoying the music of amazing popularity and commercial success!  Hoopla!   The Glenn Miller Orchestra recorded 17 Top 10 Hits in 1939!  More successes followed in the years ahead for Glenn Miller and his Orchestra.   Songs such as the classic swing sensations "In the Mood," "Little Brown Jug", "A String of Pearls" and "Moonlight Serenade." Miller's success included movies and a radio series entitled "Moonlight Serenade."   This series could be found airing on CBS three times each week.

Glenn Miller's Orchestra's distinguished popularity could be attributed to the band's exceptional sound, personality and style!  Miller was known to have stated emphatically that "A band ought to have a sound all of its own. It ought to have a personality." The combination of saxophone and clarinet was appealing to the listeners and added a resonance and swing! 

In the wake of WWII's beginning, Glenn Miller unselfishly abandoned his civilian musical success to serve his country!  What a guy!  In 1942, he enlisted in the US Army Air Force (AAF Band)  An important note or the great old age of 38, Miller was considered too old to be drafted.  Miller wrote to the then Army Brigadier General Charles Young in attempts to persuade the United States Army to accept him, and YES in his own words, "be placed in charge of a modernized Army band."  

And, well...dreams do come true and Big Band Leaders could influence the Army as well! 

Meaning,...we'll find it not such a surprise that Miller was persuasive in his appeal and the Army Air Force Band was ahem...a huge success too!  Through a maddening pace of over 800 performances, among them 300 personal appearances, and 500 broadcasts, Miller served as the host of  "I Sustain the Wings",...a weekly radio show!  Glenn played trombone with the Rhythmaires, a 15-piece dance band,  and could be found jazzing and swinging (and winging) in service clubs.  Here's a particularly lovely morsel...Glenn Miller  promoted the activities of civil service women aircraft mechanics employed at Maxwell, AFB! And, the recordings of the Glenn Miller AAF band were used as propaganda broadcasts for the Office of War Information. How about that?

Did Jolene say "What A Guy", yet?

The Disappearance that stopped the Music...

As in the beginning of this tome and Blog, or Blong, and where we began,...It is recorded, on December 15, 1944, as Glenn Miller, aged 40,  began embarkation on a tour of Europe, the flight/transport, (a single-engined UC-64 Norseman, USAAF serial 44-70285) on which he was aboard departed from RAF Twinwood Farm in Clapham, Bedfordshire and disappeared while flying over the English Channel.  The plane was never recovered.

Miller's status is missing in action. 

When Glenn Miller went missing, he left behind his wife... Helen, and two children, Steven and Jonnie.

Glenn Miller is remembered today as a great man, musician and for an unwavering patriotic devotion for his country! Aside from the music, he also influenced the evolution and commercial success of swing! 

The Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band's long term legacy has carried on with the Airmen of Note, a band within the United States Air Force Band. This band was created in 1950 from smaller groups within the Bolling Air Force Base in Washington D.C. and continues to play jazz music for the Air Force community and the general public.

Things Are BETTER With The Big Band Swing,...I'm here to say!

Hubba, Hubba to you Glenn Dahling...never before and never again.

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