Mitch Miller, the 1950s Pop maestro and former record executive at Columbia
Records dies aged 99
Sad news broke just a few days ago that the pop maestro Mitch Miller died aged
99. The goateed American musician, singer, conductor, record producer, Artists
and Repertoire man and record company executive passed away on Saturday, 31 July
2010 in a New York Hospital after a short illness.
Mitchell William “Mitch” Miller was born on the 4 July 1911 in Rochester (New
York). He was a key record executive at Columbia Records during the 1950s
and was responsible for launching the recording careers of many legendary
singers such as Tony Bennett (“Rags to Riches”) and Rosemary Clooney (“Come on-a
My House”). In 1955, at the height of Doris Day’s fame as a solo singer he also
notably persuaded Ms. Day to extend her stay with the Columbia label
after offering her an extremely lucrative new recording contract.
Miller is considered by many as one of the 20th century’s most influential
forces in popular music. Between World War II and before the onset of the
Beatles-led British Rock Invasion he literally re-invented the sound of popular
music with his distinct style of catchy novelty record. Miller was a
multi-million selling producer who had the Midas touch when it came to finding
records which the public bought by the bucket load. When he became Columbia’s
head of popular music in 1950, the label’s sales jumped 60 percent within 18
months making Columbia the most important pop music label of the decade.
Miller is also credited for having brought country music into the pop mainstream
and for refashioning many international folk tunes into popular hits.
A generation of music lover will likely know Miller best for having invited them
to “Sing Along With Mitch” on his hit American NBC television show of the early
1960s and through a series of “Sing-Along” long play records.