Roger Miller

  • Country singer born in Fort Worth TX in 1936. Died in 1992 of lung and throat cancer.
  • In the army, Miller played fiddle for a military music group called Circle A Wranglers. After leaving the army, he traveled to Nashville, hoping to find a music career. His first job was to play fiddle for Minnie Pearl’s band. He also was a member of Ray Price’s Cherokee Cowboys.
  • In the 50s, he was best known for his songwriting. He joined with George Jones to write Tall, Tall Trees and Happy Child. His first #1 hit was Billy Bayou, performed by Jim Reeves.
  • In 1958, he signed a recording deal. He was paired with Donny Lytle (who would later be known as Johnny Paycheck), and they released 2 honky-tonk singles that did not chart. He switched labels, and hit the country charts at #14 with You Don’t Want My Love. He soon charted again with When Two Worlds Collide. 
  • After this time, he moved away from music and began a party lifestyle. He moved to Hollywood, thinking that he could become an actor. Running out of money, he contacted a local record label in 1964, and agreed to record 16 songs for $1,600. Two of the songs were Dang Me and Chug-A-Lug – these singles peaked at #1 and #3 respectively on the country charts, and both were top 10 hits in the Billboard Hot 100 chart. He’d finally made it – Dang Me earned Miller 5 Grammy awards in 1964.
  • These novelty songs were common for Miller – he’d write songs that had nonsense syllables and scat singing. Another silly song of his that charted was Do-Wacka-Do. 
  • He wrote songs for the Disney animated movie Robin Hood, providing the voice of the rooster Allan-a-Dale. The songs he penned for the film were Whistle-Stop, Oo-De-Lally (another nonsense song), and Not in Nottingham.
  • Not all of his songs were silly. His biggest hit was 1964’s King of the Road – one of the signature songs of the 60s. The song won 5 Grammy awards in 1965, and the album The Return of Roger Miller also won a Grammy for Best Country & Western Album.
  • Dang Me and King of the Road also were named Grammy Hall of Fame songs in 1997 and 1998.
  • Miller stopped writing in 1978, and after a collaboration album with Willie Nelson in 1982, he withdrew from the music world. In 1984, he was invited to write the score for a Broadway musical based on Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that was in development. The show, titled Big River, went on the win 7 Tony Awards, including Best Score for Miller in 1985.
  • Miller released 19 studio albums, 3 live albums and 37 singles.
  • King of the Road was frequently played by my father and mother on their console stereo record player in Dad’s den (along with albums by Glenn Campbell and The Johnny Mann Singers). It was a hipster song of the times. Here’s Miller performing the song soon after its release – check out the screaming fans!

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