I was so sorry to read last week that recording artist and TV host Mitch Miller had passed away. He was born on July, 4, 1911 in Rochester, N.Y. He was 99 years old.
Miller had an interesting and unique musical career. He was an accomplished oboe player and recording artist when he came up with the idea for his “sing-along” records.
His “Sing Along with Mitch” albums debuted in 1958 and became an immediate success. Featuring old standards that were sung by two dozen male voices, the albums included song lyrics and invited listeners to sing along to the old standards.
The concept was soon adapted to television, with song lyrics appearing at the bottom of the screen with a bouncing ball to help audiences follow.
“Sing Along with Mitch” began as a TV special and was successful enough to return as a biweekly and then weekly TV series. First-run episodes were produced until 1964. Reruns were played during the summer of 1966.
The goateed Miller, who for many years was the head of A&R (Artists and Repertoire) at Columbia Records was an outspoken critic of early rock ’n’ roll, which is why no rockers recorded for Columbia until 1961.
On the other hand, Miller was responsible for the phenomenal success of such “adult pop” stars as Frankie Laine, Rosemary Clooney, Johnnie Ray, Tony Bennett, Doris Day, Johnny Mathis, Guy Mitchell, and the Four Lads.
Miller enjoyed a string of hit singles that both pre-dated and co-existed with rock ’n’ roll. In all, 17 of his orchestra’s songs landed onto the music charts, from his 1950 hit, “Tzena, Tenza, Tenza” to “Tunes of Glory” in 1961.
This week’s music trivia question is: Can you name the title of Mitch Miller’s biggest hit, which pushed Bill Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock” off Billboard’s No. 1 spot in the fall of 1955?
Was this Mitch Miller hit, which stayed on top of the chart for six consecutive weeks, A) “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” B) “Red Roses for a Blue Lady,” C) “Bouquet of Roses,” or D) “My Little Gisela Rose”?
This week, if you’re caller number six and have the right answer, you’ll win two great prizes — a custom CD of your favorite artist’s hits and a $10 gift certificate to Scoop’s Ice Cream Shop.
Now, let’s see how we did with last week’s music trivia question, which was: Which of the following country singers is physician Mark “Doc” Ivey’s favorite: (A) Tennessee Ernie Ford, B) Ernest Tubb C) Jim Reeves or D) Dennis Fendler?
The correct answer was Jim Reeves.
Tennessee Ernie Ford and Ernest Tubb were also popular and highly successful country artists during the 1950s and ’60s.
When not on concert tour, you can find Dennis Fendler in the Payson Roundup pressroom or out in the field shooting photos for the newspaper.
Congratulations to last week’s music trivia winner, Michelle Schwertfager, who won a “Best of Jim Reeves” CD and a copy of the three originally recorded hits that made Doc Ivey the 1989 PMT (Payson Music Television) award winner.
Michelle, who has been a patient of Doc Ivey for 10 years, said, “I knew Doc played the guitar, but I had no idea he was a singer, too.”
A little more about Michelle: She was born and raised in Joliet, Ill. — less than an hour from where I grew up.
In her sophomore year at Joliet Township High School, Michelle began working as an operator for her local telephone company, a trade she would continue after graduation and her relocation to Phoenix when she was 21.
Michelle was introduced to Alan, her future husband, by a mutual friend, who scheduled a romantic encounter for the two of them in Michelle’s employee cafeteria.
Neither Alan nor Michelle could remember where they went on their first “real date,” only that “It had to be someplace cheap,” said Michelle. They have been married for 45 years.
Now retired, Alan and Michelle moved from Forest Lakes to Payson just about a year ago. They still maintain their home on top of the Rim.
Michelle’s interests include traveling in their family RV, being a homemaker and listening to both classic and contemporary country music.
Have a great weekend, music fans!
Web site: www.DJCraigInPayson.com