Glenn Miller Orchestra

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This article is about the band that Glenn Miller performed with. For the band that performed on after the loss of Glenn Miller, see Glenn Miller Orchestra (1956–present).
Glenn Miller Orchestra
Glenn Miller Band.jpg
Original Glenn Miller Orchestra, 1940s
Background information
Genres Big band, Jazz, Swing
Years active 1938–1942
Labels Bluebird
Website www.glennmiller.com/index.php
Past members

The Glenn Miller Orchestra was a swing/jazz big band formed by Glenn Miller in 1938. It was arranged around a clarinet and tenor saxophone playing melody, while three other saxophones played the harmony. This arrangement was different from usual and allowed Miller to develop his own style and sound, which made him and his orchestra one of the greatest and well-known of the swing era.

History[edit]

Miller originally formed a band around 1935–36. They sang with Brunswick Records, but struggled with financial troubles[3] and the band folded in 1937. But they reformed in 1938, and under new management they got significant radio airplay and achieved a large amount of success.[4] Through Miller's demand for professionalism at all times, perseverance, hard work, and musical genius, he created his own distinctive style, different from the regular swing bands of the time, which earned him 70 top ten singles in just four short years[5] - and launched the band to the uppermost heights of popularity.

Musical success[edit]

Beginnings: 1938[edit]

On 7 September 1938, the first recordings with the newly reformed band. They were "My Reverie" and "King Porter Stomp" released on record 7853 on RCA's sublabel Bluebird. Miller was not yet famous, and made less than 10 recordings[6] with his band for the rest of that year.[7]

Glen Island Casino: Summer 1939[edit]

In March 1939, The Glenn Miller Orchestra was given its big break, when they were chosen to play the summer season at the prestigious Glen Island Casino located in New Rochelle, New York. On 17 May 1939, they played their first songs of the night. The casino had a radio broadcast antenna and the Miller band was broadcast. By the end of their summer season, they had nationwide attention. They were famous.[3][8][9][10]

George T. Simon, the drummer for the unsuccessful first Miller band, had this to say about the Glen Island brodacasts:

Glen Island was the prestige place for people who listened to bands on radio. The band's first semi hit, "Little Brown Jug", came out just when it opened at Glen Island. That helped. And the clarinet lead in Glenn's arrangements was such a romantic sound! It caught the public fancy during this exposure. Miller began ending his broadcasts from Glen Island with his "Something Old, Something New" medleys. But the most important thing for Glenn's success was that he recorded "In the Mood" while he was at the casino. That made him the Michael Jackson of his day.[11]

Also, at this time, Miller decided to add a trombone and a trumpet, giving the band a fuller sound.

Nationwide popularity: 1939–42[edit]

1939[edit]

Miller was enormously popular and the rest of 1939 only got better. On 4 April 1939, Miller and his Orchestra recorded "Moonlight Serenade". What many consider to be his second most famous record,[12] (only behind "In the Mood" which was recorded later that year) the song helped Miller and his orchestra become even more popular- by staying on Billboard for 15 weeks and peaking at number 3- and was the band's greatest song at that time. It was the 5th overall most popular song for 1939. Miller's most famous song "In the Mood" was recorded 1 August 1939. Miller changed things around with the song before it was recorded, though he was never credited as an arranger.[13] The song, famous for it's "dueling" saxophone solos[14] and often the closing number to most shows, shot to number one on Billboard's charts and stayed on the charts for a total of 30 weeks.[15]

1940[edit]

1940 was a very popular year for Miller, as he earned himself 31 top ten hits and unsurpassed popularity.[5] On 5 February 1940, Miller recorded "Tuxedo Junction". As a number one hit for Miller, it was overall at number 7 for the National Hit Parade, and sold 115,000 copies within the first week.[16] In April, "Pennsylvania 6-5000" was released and that too became an instant jazz standard. A lot of these songs would also be featured in the 1941 motion poicture Sun Valley Serenade.[17] "In The Mood" recorded in 1939, became supremely popular. It led the Record Buying Guide for 13 weeks and stayed on Billboard‍ '​s charts for 30.[18] "In the Mood" would eventually, in 1983, be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[19] It is considered one of the (if not the) greatest instrumental song of the swing era.[20][21][22]

The band's most popular songs are became very popular and recorded a number of chart successes — among these were the ever-popular "Moonlight Serenade", "In the Mood", "Tuxedo Junction", "Pennsylvania 6-5000", "Chattanooga Choo Choo", "A String of Pearls", "At Last", and "(I've Got a Gal In) Kalamazoo."

Radio success[edit]

In the early 1940s, Miller's orchestra had an hour-long program on NBC-Blue, 5-6 p.m. Eastern time on Saturdays. A review in Billboard commented, "Unusual length of the program allows Miller to display all the top items in his library."[23]

Past members[edit]

[1] [24]

Trombones[edit]

Trumpets[edit]

Reeds[edit]

Vocalists[edit]

Other[edit]

  • Rolly Bundock, Bass
  • Trigger Alpert, Bass (-1941)
  • Doc Goldberg, Bass (1941-1942)
  • Chummy McGregor, Piano
  • Jack Lathrop, Guitar (-1941)
  • Richard Fisher, Guitar (1941-1942)
  • Maurice Purtill, Drums
  • Frank Carlson, Drums
  • Jimmy Abato, Clarinet

Discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]