Mrs Mills

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Gladys Mills
Mrs Mills
Mrs. Mills (All Time Party Dances) Album Cover.jpg
Mrs Mills album cover
Background information
Birth name Gladys Jordan
Born (1918-08-29)29 August 1918
Beckton, London, England
Died 24 February 1978(1978-02-24) (aged 59)
London, England
Genres Sing-along
Occupation(s) Musician, singer
Instruments Piano
Years active 1960s & 1970s
Labels Parlophone
Capitol (Canada)

Gladys Mills, née Gladys Jordan (29 August 1918 – 24 February 1978),[1] known as Mrs Mills, was an English pianist who was active in the 1960s and 1970s, and who released many records. Her repertoire included many sing-along and party tunes made popular in the music hall.

Early life[edit]

Mills was born in Beckton, East London, England.[1] Her uncle Henry was a harp player and her mother was a main influence in developing her musical ability. She took piano lessons from the age of 3½ to the age of seven.

She married Bert Mills, with whom she moved to Loughton, Essex, where she lived most of her life.[1]

Career[edit]

1960s[edit]

While working as the superintendent of a typing pool in the office of the Paymaster General in London, Mills performed as a honky-tonk pianist in the evenings and weekends.[1] She was spotted by a talent scout while playing piano with a semi-professional band at a dance at the Woolford Golf Club in Essex.[1] At the age of 43, in December 1961, she made her first television appearance on The Billy Cotton Show.

By the end of January 1962, she would be a household name, rising to fame during the same period as her stable-mates The Beatles, with whom she had shared space at Abbey Road Studios (as mentioned in the Beatles Anthology DVD bonus materials). Her career as an entertainer was to last well into the 1970s.

She was signed to a management contract by Eric Easton, who later went on to manage The Dave Clark Five and The Rolling Stones, and then signed a recording contract with Parlophone.

In 1961 she released her first record, "Mrs Mills Medley", a single that entered the Top Twenty of the UK Singles Chart.[2] She toured the UK, making many appearances on TV and radio throughout the 1960s. Mills was also a successful recording artist overseas in territories where there were large numbers of expatriates from the UK, including Australia, Canada and Hong Kong.

Her oeuvre consisted of British and international standards, plus cover versions of contemporary hits. Her covers included "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend", "Hello, Dolly!", "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" and "Yellow Submarine", all of which were re-released by EMI in their 2003 compilation The Very Best of Mrs Mills.

1970s[edit]

Mills appeared on two episodes of The Morecambe and Wise Show in 1971 and 1974, where she performed a medley of favourites with the studio orchestra.[3] In 1973 she appeared in an episode of The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club.

In December 1974 she appeared as the subject of This Is Your Life, hosted by Eamonn Andrews, when it was revealed that the first record she had recorded was "The Girl in Calico", cut in a make-your-own-record booth on Southend Pier, for a half-crown, with her girlhood pal Lily Dormer.

In 1975 her distinctive style of performance was satirized in an edition of BBC TV's The Two Ronnies, originally broadcast on BBC Two on 23 January 1975. The sketch, titled "Family Entertainment – John & Mrs Mills", occupied the end-of-the-show musical slot in episode 4 of the fourth series. It featured Ronnie Barker as a silk-laden Mrs Mills at piano, and Ronnie Corbett as a uniformed Sir John Mills (who was no relation to Mrs Mills). Barker and Corbett performed a medley of Mills-style classics revolving around John Mills's character in the 1969 film Oh! What a Lovely War.

Little was seen of Mills on television in her final years and she died of a heart attack on 24 February 1978 in London.[1]

Legacy[edit]

"Mrs Mills", a piano at Abbey Road Studios

The name "Mrs Mills" was given to a vintage 1905 Steinway Vertegrand piano, frequently used by her at Abbey Road Studios in London, where she recorded.[4] The piano, with a characteristic out-of-tune honky-tonk sound, has remained in use at Abbey Road for over 50 years, and was used in countless recordings made there, including some by The Beatles.[5]

Although Mills's musical legacy had been largely forgotten in recent times, June 2012 saw the emergence of London-based tribute band The Mrs Mills Experience[6] with a debut at The Vintage Festival at Boughton House in Northamptonshire.[7] On 13 July they were filmed playing live at The Prince Albert pub in Brixton, London Borough of Lambeth by the BBC.[8] On 23 September 2012 BBC Four broadcast the 60-minute documentary Let's Have a Party! The Piano Genius of Mrs Mills on the life of Mills, which included footage of the band and contributions from Rick Wakeman, Rowland Rivron and Pete Murray, amongst others.[9]

Loughton Town Council commissioned a blue plaque to her memory on the house at 43, Barncroft Close, her home for many years.[10]

Discography[edit]

A Best of CD was released by the EMI Gold imprint, and another CD (The Mrs Mills Collection) appeared on the HMV Easy label. A list of her UK output (according to a vast, now lost Parlophone listing from the web) is as follows:

EMI/Parlophone Records — singles (all mono) with the Geoff Love Orchestra[edit]

Catalogue Number Issue Date Title
R 4856 1961 "Mrs Mills Medley" parts 1&2
R 4863 1962 "Popcorn"/”Bobbikins"
R 4933 1962 "Entry of the Tradiators"/”South Rampart Street Parade”
R 4975 1963 "Mrs Mills Hoe-Down Party" parts 1&2
R 5008 1963 "Bubblin' Over"/”The First Waltz"
R 5214 1964 "We're Gonna Throw A Little Party (Y' All Come)"/”Ten Green Bottles"
R 5238 1964 "Mrs Mills' Minstrel Medley" parts 1&2
R 5367 November 1965 "Mrs Mills' Party Medley" parts 1&2
R 5399 January 1966 "Newsboy"/”Someone Like You"
R 5549 December 1966 "Glad Today Medley"/”Glad Yesterday Medley"
R 5599 April 1967 "I Was Queen Victoria's Chambermaid"/”Thank You Everybody"
R 5653 November 1967 "Party Hit Parade" parts 1&2
R 5678 1968 "Candy Floss"/”Indian Summer”
R 5748 1968 "Glad's Party" parts 1&2
R 5822 November 1969 "Battle of Britain Medley"/"A Wee Drop of Scotch"
R 5834 1970 "The Champs Elysees"/”Kiss Curl Caper" (listed as Mrs Mills And Her Happy Piano)
R 5877 November 1970 "Mrs Mills' Minstrel Medley" parts 1&2
R 5950 April 1972 "Sunshine"/”Bobbikins"

EMI/Parlophone Records – EPs (all mono)[edit]

Catalogue Number Issue Date Title
GEP 8861 1962 "The Happy Piano Player" (released in NZ as MGEP 8861)
GEP 8865 1962 "Mrs Mills Plays The Roaring Twenties”
GEP 8918 1964 "Everybody's Welcome at Mrs Mills' Party”
GEP 8935 1963 "Any Time's Party Time With Mrs Mills"
GEP 8943 1965 "It's Party Time!”
GEP 8958 1966 "Mrs Mills' Party”

EMI/Parlophone Records – LPs (PMC: mono, PCS: stereo)[edit]

Catalogue Number Issue Date Title
PMC 1178 1962 "Mrs Mills Plays The Roaring Twenties", also released in 1962 by The World Record Club in Great Britain, on their label, number ST994, showing a portrait cover art
PMC 1212 November 1963 "Everybody's Welcome at Mrs Mills' Party"
PMC 1234 1964 "It's Party Time!"
PMC 1254 September 1964 "Music For Anytime"
PMC 1264 November 1965 "Mrs Mills' Party"
PCS 3030 1962 "Mrs Mills Plays The Roaring Twenties"
PCS 3049 November 1963 "Everybody's Welcome at Mrs Mills' Party"
PCS 3070 September 1965 "Music For Anytime"
PCS 3074 November 1965 "Mrs Mills' Party"
PMC/PCS 7002 April 1966 "Especially For You"
PMC/PCS 7010 1966 "Come to my Party"
PMC/PCS 7020 April 1967 "Look Mum – No Hands!"
PCS 7035 December 1967 "Let's Have Another Party"
PCS 7046 April 1968 "Summer Party"
PCS 7066 November 1968 "Party Pieces"
PCS 7080 July 1969 "Back to the Roaring Twenties"
PCS 7087 January 1970 "Party Mixture"
PCS 7117 November 1970 "Bumper Bundle Party"
PCS 7129 July 1971 "More Music For Anytime"
PCS 7143 January 1972 "Music Hall Party"
PCS 7152 July 1972 "Anytime Is Party Time"
PCS 7153 October 1972 "Another Flippin' Party"
PCS 7166 June 1974 "Hollywood Party"
PCS 7167 November 1974 "It's Party Time Again"

EMI/Music For Pleasure Records – LPs (all stereo)[edit]

Catalogue Number Issue Date Title
MFP 5225 1966 "I'm Mighty Glad"
MFP 1406 1967 "Your One and Only Mrs Mills"
MFP 50009 1974 "Piano Singalong" (released in Australia on Axis label, featuring a Straube player-piano as the album art)
MFP 50220 1975 "Glad with Love" (Mrs Mills and Geoff Love Singalong Together)
MFP 50230 1975 "Mrs Mills Knees-Up Party"

Other recordings (all stereo)[edit]

Record Label Catalogue Number Issue Date Information
Regal Starline Records SRS 5029 1970 Party Sing-Along (released in Australia on EMI Parlophone label)
Regal Starline Records SRS 5089 1971 All Time Party Dances (released in Australia on EMI Parlophone label)
EMI/Encore Records ONCR 508 1971 All Time Party Dances and Other Favourites (released in Australia on Axis label, comprising All Time Party Dances LP, plus selected tracks from other Parlophone albums)
EMI/One-Up Records OU 2076 1970–79 It's Party Time! (reissue). Also released in Scotland, with album art showing Mrs Mills with various cute puppies.
EMI/One-Up Records OU 2197 1977 Glad Tidings – Mrs Mills' Christmas Party
EMI/Sounds Superb Records SPR 90012 1973 Non-Stop Honky-Tonk Party (blue or purple background)
EMI/Double-Up Records DUO 108 1973 What a Wonderful Party (double album. The cover shows a chimps tea-party). Selections from this double album were released in Australia as Parlophone SPMEO 10164, What a Wonderful Party, with a cartoon-style piano cover.
EMI/Double-Up Records DUO 122 1976 Jumbo-Party (double album – elephant cover). These albums were released separately in Australia as Jumbo Party, Volume 1 and 2, EMI EMB 10383 and 10384 respectively.
Liberty Records LST-7359 Unknown My Mother the Ragtime Piano Player – 6-track, 33rpm 7" EP – (consisting of selections from Mrs Mills Plays the Roaring 20s)
Liberty Records LRP-3359 (mono) or LST-7359 (stereo) Unknown My Mother the Ragtime Piano Player – 33 rpm 12" album, US release of Mrs Mills Plays the Roaring 20s
Unknown Unknown Unknown "Auld Lang Syne / Happy Birthday" (distributed in South Africa)
EMI Records EMC 2228 Unknown "Smile Smile Smile" / "Da-Dar Da-Dar" – 7 inch single
EMI Records EMC 3092 1975 For Your Party – Mrs Mills Sings and Plays
Music For Pleasure DL 41 1058 3 1984 Piano Party Time – double album, a re-release of Music for Anytime and Mrs Mills Party
Capitol Canada ST6082 Unknown Mrs Mills & Russ ConwayLet's Have a Party – (Mrs Mills content consists of various singles such as "Entry of the Tradiators" and "Ten Green Bottles", plus two tracks from Mrs Mills Plays the Roaring 20s
Capitol Canada ST6151 Unknown Another Party with Mrs Mills – (Canadian release of Mrs Mills Party)
Deutscher Schallplattenclub H-044 Unknown Mrs Mills – Am Schräger Klavier ("At the Diagonal Piano") – (German release of Mrs Mills Plays the Roaring 20s)
Telemark Dance Records 892 Unknown "Candy Floss / Someone Like You" – 7 inch single
S*R International Label 74989-P12 Unknown Mrs Mills' Crazy Party – German release, consisting of various selections from Mrs Mills Plays the Roaring 20s interspersed with traditional jazz tunes from The New Orleans Hot Dogs
EMI Odeon O 23 390 Unknown "Mrs Mills Klimperkasten Potpourri" – German release of "Glad Today" and "Glad Yesterday" – 7 inch 45rpm single
Music For Pleasure FP 10055 1975 Tapetunes "Chattanooga Choo Choo" & "Little Sir Echo" - listed as a "Piano Singalong with Mrs Mills" 45rpm single
EMIMUSIC EMAJ(M)8504 1988 EMI Brigadiers (Johannesburg) "EMIMUSIC presents Mrs Mills" LP compilation from various other Mrs Mills albums

Apple iTunes also lists several albums, such as "Knees-Up Roaring 20s Party", "Crazy Rhythm", "Mairzy Doats And Dozy Doats", and "Just Mrs Gladys Mills". Microsoft's Groove Music lists "Welcome To Mrs Mills Honky Tonk Party". These are simply reissued albums, or compilations of tracks, from various EMI Parlophone albums and singles. The cover art on these albums, rather than the content, has been of interest to collectors.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Sharon Mawer. "Mrs. Mills". Allmusic. Retrieved 16 April 2012. 
  2. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 371. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  3. ^ Petridis, Alexis (7 October 2010). "The bizarre lost world of 1970s cabaret pop". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 16 April 2012. 
  4. ^ Hemmingsen, Piers A. "Mrs. Mills Rocks: Gladys Mills and her Piano Tour Canada and the USA – October 1968". Capitol 6000. Archived from the original on 19 October 2016. 
  5. ^ O'Keefe, Phil. "Keyboards of the Beatles era". Harmony Central. Retrieved 30 August 2014. 
  6. ^ The Mrs Mills Experience, a London based tribute band to the singalong piano thumping genius of Mrs Gladys Mills, pianist extraordinaire. Mrsmills.org. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  7. ^ Festival – The Vintage Nightclubs – The Leisure Lounge – Vintage By Hemingway Celebrating 5 Decades of British Cool Archived 21 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine.. Vintagefestival.co.uk. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  8. ^ "Mrs Mills Experience being filmed by the BBC at the Brixton Offline Club, Prince Albert Coldharbour Lane, London SW9". Mrsmills.org. 13 July 2012. Retrieved 18 December 2012. . Mrsmills.org (13 July 2012). Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  9. ^ BBC Four – Let's Have a Party! The Piano Genius of Mrs Mills. Bbc.co.uk (27 October 2012). Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  10. ^ Loughton Town Council – Blue Heritage Plaques Archived 27 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine.. Loughton-tc.gov.uk (23 August 1914). Retrieved 18 December 2012.

External links[edit]