Ray Miller (bandleader)
Relatively little is known of his private life. In 1916 he worked as a singing waiter at the Casino Gardens in Chicago, home of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Miller followed the ODJB to New York City, where he formed a band, the Black and White Melody Boys, featuring himself on drums and New Orleans native Tom Brown on trombone. The band performed in vaudeville and featured in several musical productions before disbanding.
Miller then formed a dance band around 1920. Its members, at different times, included Ward Archer (drums); Charlie Rocco (trumpet); Miff Mole (trombone); Danny Yates (violin); Roy Johnston (trumpet); Rube Bloom and Tommy Satterfield (piano); Louie Chasone (tuba); Frank Trumbauer, Andy Sannella, Billy Richards and Andy Sandolar (saxophones); and Frank O. Prima (banjo). The orchestra recorded for various labels, notably Columbia and OKeh, before signing an exclusive contract with Brunswick Records in late 1923. They increasingly played jazz-influenced music — especially after Mole and Trumbauer joined in 1924 — and held residencies at the New York Hippodrome and Arcadia Ballroom, and in Atlantic City. The orchestra's most successful recordings included "The Sheik of Araby" (OKeh, 1922), "I'll See You In My Dreams" (Brunswick, 1925), and "When It's Springtime in the Rockies" (Brunswick, 1930). "I'll See You In My Dreams" was written by Isham Jones, who performed it with the band.
On October 17, 1924, the orchestra became the first jazz band to play at the White House, where they performed with Al Jolson at a campaign rally for President Calvin Coolidge. They also recorded with Jolson, notably on Irving Berlin's song "All Alone" in late 1924. After Mole and Trumbauer left, Miller moved his base to the Hotel Gibson in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1927, and performed regularly for the powerful radio station WLW. He left Cincinnati and formed a new band in Chicago in 1928, which for a few months included trumpeter Muggsy Spanier and clarinetist Volly De Faut. Miller and his orchestra recorded regularly for Brunswick in Chicago until 1930.
Miller seems not to have stayed in the music business after 1930. His later life is not publicly recorded. According to his granddaughter, he died in 1974.
- Biography by Rovi at Allmusic.com. Retrieved 11 June 2013
- Ate van Delden, Liner notes of Ray Miller and his Brunswick Orchestra 1924-1929, Timeless Records. Retrieved 11 June 2013
- Edward Allan Faine, The First Jazz Band at the White House
- Whitburn, Joel (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954: The History of American Popular Music. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research, Inc. p. 313. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
- Whitburn, Pop Memories 1890-1954, p.234
- Ross Laird, Brunswick Records: A Discography of Recordings: 3. Chicago and regional sessions, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001
- Message from Joan Wise at Bixography forum, January 29, 2006. Retrieved 11 June 2013