1958 Mitch Miller – Medley: The River Kwai March / Colonel Bogey March
Mitch Miller grew up in Rochester, New York. When he was in junior high school, he joined the band and they gave him an oboe to learn to play. He later also took up the English horn and continued playing classical music at the Eastern School of Music. He became proficient enough to join the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. He moved to New York City and played professionally throughout the thirties and forties.
In the late thirties, Mitch became the head of A&R for Mercury Records, and in 1950 he moved to the same post at Columbia Records. At Columbia, he also began producing records and recording with the house band. He had a hit as Mitch Miller and the Gang with the single Tzena, Tzena, Tzena in 1950 that peaked at #3 on the Hot 100. His biggest success came In 1950 with the release of the single Yellow Rose Of Texas, which reached the top of the chart and sold over a million copies. He began putting out a series of albums tagged “Sing Along With Mitch.”
He released a few singles the next year that failed to reach the top forty, and then released Lisbon Antigua. His version of the song featured vocal accompaniment and only reached #19 on the Hot 100 when it was pushed aside by the Nelson Riddle (mostly) instrumental version (which reached #1 on the pop chart).
That Summer, Mitch released the single, The Theme Song From “Song For A Summer Night,” which reached the top ten.
He had released several other songs from television and movies and had hits with two of them. In 1958, his medley of March From The River Kwai and The Colonel Bogey March reached #20 on the Hot 100. His last top forty single was The Children’s Marching Song (Nick Nack Paddy Whack), which peaked at #16 in 1959.
In 1960, NBC aired a television special entitled Sing Along With Mitch. The show presented songs with the words bouncing across the bottom of the screen so viewers could sing along. The special went well enough that the show became a regular part of the schedule for three years.
Mitch kept Columbia Records from signing rock-and-roll artists through the fifties and early sixties because he detested that style of music. His major accomplishment during that time was driving a lot of musicians to Capitol Records.
They awarded Mitch a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000, reflecting his impact on the production of popular music.
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