Charles Miller (musician)

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Charles Miller
Born(1939-06-02)June 2, 1939
Olathe, Kansas
DiedJune 4, 1980(1980-06-04) (aged 41)
Los Angeles, California
Genresfunk, rock
InstrumentsSaxophone, Flute, Clarinet
Years active1969–1980
Associated actsWar

Charles Miller (June 2, 1939 – June 4, 1980)[1] was an American musician best known as the saxophonist and flutist for multicultural California funk band War. Notably, Miller provided lead vocals as well as sax on the band's Billboard R&B #1 hit "Low Rider" (1975).


Miller was born in Olathe, Kansas, moved with his family to Los Angeles two years later, and settled in Long Beach, California. His father was a musician who featured with organist Paul Bryant.[2]

Charles was always interested in music, which included his playing of woodwinds, piano, and guitar, as well as within school bands and school orchestras.

In 1967, Charles's interest in music was supplanted until, when at Long Beach City College, he sustained a football injury.

Charles recorded with various groups such as Señor Soul on Señor Soul Plays Funky Favorites[3] (1968) and It's Your Thing (1969) on the Double Shot Records.[4] He participated in recording sessions with The Ray Charles Band, and toured with the Debonaires, Brenton Wood, Señor Soul and Afro Blues Quintet + 1.

In the summer of 1969, Charles was in Hollywood at the first Studio Instrument Rentals (located on Santa Monica and Vine) when he heard Harold Brown practicing with Howard E. Scott and Papa Dee Allen. He joined and the Night Shift was created.

Charles Miller was performing at the Rag Doll in North Hollywood with the Night Shift when Eric Burdon and Lee Oskar came into the club. Lee Oskar went to the bandstand and that’s when their distinct sound came together, the blend of his saxophone and Lee Oskar's harmonica.

Charles Miller’s deep voice is heard on the War song "Low Rider", and he is credited by many sources as the dominant and initial songwriter of "Low Rider". It was recorded at Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco in 1975. The song is sampled by many artists like Flo Rida, who used it for his song "G.D.F.R.", and is heard in movies like Beverly Hills Chihuahua and television shows, being the theme song for the sitcom George Lopez.

In 1980, Charles Miller was stabbed to death in Los Angeles during a botched street robbery.[5] To this day, no one has been arrested or prosecuted for his murder. At the time of his death, he was living in Hollywood with his wife Eddy Miller, daughters Annette and Laurian, and sons Donald and Mark.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "» Died On This Date (June 4, 1980) Charles W. Miller / War The Music's Over". Retrieved 2019-11-19.
  2. ^ Charles Miller died 1980 Retrieved 30 March 2021
  3. ^ Senor Soul plays Retrieved 30 March 2021
  4. ^ Señor Soul discography at
  5. ^ Ruggiero, Bob (2008-04-23). "The Lowrider Band". Houston Press. Retrieved 2019-11-19.

External links[edit]