Glenn Miller was born on March 1, 1904 in Clarinda, Iowa. He became one of the most beloved jazz and big band musicians of all time working as a trombonist, arranger, composer, and bandleader. He knew before he even graduated from high school in 1921 that he wanted to be a professional musician. He went to University of Colorado at Boulder in 1923, but eventually dropped out to pursue a musical career.
He got work as a trombonist with Ben Pollack, Red Nichols, Benny Goodman, & the Dorsey Brothers. He became the de facto leader of Ray Noble’s band in 1935 and did arrangements for Glen Gray and others before starting his own band in 1937. It failed, as did a 1938 succesor, but in 1939 Glenn developed his trademark reed sound (four saxophones and clarinet) and soared to the top.
Nine of his tunes appear on the DMDB’s list of the top 1000 songs of all time: “Moonlight Serenade” (1939), “In the Mood” (1939), “Tuxedo Junction” (1940), “Chattanooga Choo Choo” (1941), “ A String of Pearls” (1942), “Moonlight Cocktail” (1942), “Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree with Anyone Else But Me” (1942), “I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo” (1942), and “That Old Black Magic” (1943). “Serenade”, “Mood”, and “Choo Choo” have all been named to the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Three Glenn Miller logged at least ten weeks at #1 on the Billboard album charts, ranking them amongst the Biggest #1 Albums in U.S. chart history: Glenn Miller and His Orchestra (1945), Plays Selections from the Film ‘The Glenn Miller Story’ (1954), and The Glenn Miller Story (1954).
At his band’s peak in September 1942, he enlisted in the Army Air Force and formed the war’s most famous service band. During travels to entertain the U.S. troops during World War II, his plane disappeared over the English Channel during bad weather. He was declared missing in action on December 15, 1944. Hollywood’s 1954 Glenn Miller Story further immortalized the music and the man.
- one of the top 100 acts of all time
- top 100 music makers of the pre-rock era
- Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
- Grammy Hall of Fame (three different songs)
- Hollywood Walk of Fame stars for people in the recording industry
Resources and Related Links:
- the DMDB Music Maker Encyclopedia entry for Glenn Miller
- the DMDB’s list of the top 1000 songs of all time
- DMDB blog entry: Glenn Miller charts with “In the Mood”: October 7, 1939
- Wikipedia entry for Glenn Miller