Mitch Miller, the 1950s Pop maestro and former record executive at Columbia Records dies aged 99

August 4, 2010 No Comments

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.

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