Glenn Miller's Biography

Alton Glenn Miller was born on March 1, 1904, in Clarinda, Iowa; the son of Lewis Elmer and Mattie Lou Cavender Miller. He started his music studies when his father gave him a mandolin. He soon traded the mandolin for an old horn. In 1916 he switched to trombone. In 1923, he enrolled in the University of Colorado, but after a year, he dropped out of school and moved to Los Angeles, where he joined Ben Pollack's band. He spent most of his time playing gigs and attending auditions. In 1928, Miller moved to New York, where he played session gigs and made orchestrations. At that time he studied with the Russian musician and mathematician Joseph Schillinger, whose star apprentice was George Gershwin. Miller took Schillinger's instruction on orchestration of a practice exercise, which he developed into the song "Moonlight Serenade", making a small fortune with it. In 1934, Miller joined the Dorsey Brothers' Orchestra for a year, then organized an American band for Ray Noble, and made his debut at the Rainbow Room in New York's Rockefeller Center. The special sound of his band was developed in Miller's orchestration by using the "crystal chorus" and other inventive ways of arrangement. Miller recorded his own band first time for Columbia Records on April 25, 1935. His instrumental "Solo Hop" reached the Top Ten in 1935, but he did not organize the real "Glenn Miller Orchestra" until March of 1937. In 1939, Miller and his new band got an engagement at the Glen Island Casino in New Rochelle, NY, which was a major spot with a radio wire. In 1939, he scored seventeen Top Ten hits, including such songs, as "Sunrise Serenade", "Moonlight Serenade", "Stairway to the Stars", "Moon Love", "Over the Rainbow", "Blue Orchids", "The Man With the Mandilon", and other popular songs, which he composed or orchestrated. Miller scored 31 Top Ten hits in the year 1940, and another 11 Top Ten hits in 1941. His number one hits included "Song of the Volga Boatmen", "You and I", "Chattanooga Choo Choo", from his first film, 'Sun Valley Serenade'. Miller worked with the vocalists Tex Beneke, Ray Eberle, and the Modernaires with Paula Kelly. On February 10, 1942, Miller was presented with the first ever "Gold record" for "Chattanooga Choo Choo" and scored another 11 Top Ten hits in 1942. That was the first full year of his country's participation in the Second World War. He organized a large dance band in the Army Air Force at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. From January 1943 to June 1944 the Glenn Miller Band made hundreds of live performances, "I Sustain the Wings" radio broadcasts, and scored another 10 Top Ten hits in the year 1943. Miller took his band to Britain in June 1944. There he performed for the allied troops and did radio shows. His last recording of 20 new songs was made weeks before his death; it was released only in 1995. Maj. Glenn Miller was seen boarding on a plane to Paris, where he was invited to perform for the allied troops and senior commanders of the allied armies. Later the plane on which he was supposed to be traveling was officially reported crashed on December 15, 1944, in the waters of the English Channel. In 1985, the British Ministry of Defence came up with explanation of Miller's disappearance, claiming that his plane was struck by a British bomb dropped in the waters by returning RAF pilots. No wreckage, remains, or IDs were found. Glenn Miller was officially declared dead in a plane crash on December 15, 1944. His tombstone was placed in Memorial Section H, Number 464-A on Wilson Drive in Arlington National Cemetery in April of 1992, at Miller's daughter's request.

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