Glenn Miller's Bands
Intro
Life
Bands
Music
Death
Successors
Admirers
Books, Videos and CDs
Miller related links
The Author

At the age of about 10, his parents presented Glenn a mandoline, his first own musical instrument. But some day Glenn came home with a horn - he simply had exchanged his mandoline for the horn, and from now on he used every minute at lunchtime to blow on his horn. When his brother Deane graduated to playing in the town band, Glenn showed such promise and enthusiasm with his brother that the leader of that band Jack Mossberger let Glenn into the band and gave him a shiny new trombone. This trombone was from now on part of Glenn Miller.
The earliest known recordings of Glenn Miller were dating from fall 1926 in Chicago when cornetist Earl Baker made private recordings with his own 'Edison Standard Phonograph' equipment phonographalong with Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Fud Livingston and some other musicians of the Ben Pollack band. These recordings have been issued on LP 'The Legendary Earl Baker Cylinders' (Jazz Archives JA43) in 1979. Sister Kate, After I Say I'm Sorry, Sobbin' Blues and Sleepy Time Gal were amongst the recorded titles.
In the following years Glenn experienced a lot from playing numerous jobs with bands like Boyd Senter, Holly Moyer, Tom Watkins, Max Fisher and Georgie Stoll, many of them forgotten today. In late fall 1926 he joined Ben Pollack's band and his roommate there was - Benny Goodman.
 

Holly Moyer's Band
Tommy Watkins' Band
Boyd Senter's Band
The Ray Noble Orchestra

When Jack Teagarden was added to the band in early summer 1928, Glenn left Pollack. He obviously knew that Jack's talent would make Glenn being No. 2. Glenn became a sought after studio musician, playing with such future greats as Benny Goodman, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Red Nichols and many others. Besides he also had several jobs as trombonist and as arranger with Smith Ballew (1932-1934), the Dorsey Brothers (1934) and Ray Noble (1934-1936). In that years Glenn got to know many musicians that he took into his own bands later on.
After leaving the Noble band, Glenn had several jobs at radio-shows and made many records with different bands. He lived with Helen and their bullterrier 'Pops' in a comfortable appartement in 37-60, 88th St. in Jackson Heights, N.Y.
By end of 1936 together with his friend, the music critic and drummer George T. Simon, he started looking for musicians for his first own band.

Glenn Miller and His Orchestra (1937)
(The band that failed)

Early 1937 he started rehearsing on a regular basis in the Haven Studios in NYC (W. 54th St./6.-7. Ave.), and on March 22 they had their first recording session for Decca. Six titles were recorded in that short time of 3 hours that were allowed by the union. Glenn had arranged all except the last title of that session:
 
Peg O' My Heart
Wistful and Blue
How Am I To Know ?
Anytime, Anyday, Anywhere
Moonlight Bay
I'm Sitting On Top Of The World
Band:  Glenn MILLER, Jesse RALPH, Harry RODGERS (alle tb)
Charlie SPIVAK, Manny KLEIN, Sterling BOSE (alle tp)
George SIRAVO (as), Hal McINTYRE (clt, as), Jerry JEROME (ts), Carl BIESECKER (ts)
Howard SMITH (p), Dick McDONOUGH (g), Ted KOTSOFTIS (b), George SIMON (d)
Doris KERR, Sterling BOSE, The Tune Twisters (Trio mit Jack LATHROP) (alle voc)

In May the band had their first one-nighter in the Hotel New Yorker, and their first engagement for unbelievable three weeks in the Raymor Ballroom in Boston. After a second recording session (June 9, for Brunswick) they were booked for two weeks in New Orlean's Hotel Roosevelt. The band was very successful and their contract got extended for another 2 weeks first and then for another 4 weeks, and finally they had been playing a record-breaking 10 weeks in whole. Next locations were Hotel Adolphus (Dallas), Hotel Nicollet (Minneapolis) and again Raymor Ballroom.
Brunswick recorded another six titles with the band on Nov.29 and Dec.13, and after a long series of one-nighters Glenn recognized that the quality of his band has been going down because of too many changes in personnel. Some of the musicians had become drinkers, others had turned to primadonnas. Moral and discipline of the band were very low now, and the most important fact was that Glenn had made a $ 18.000 deficit with this band in one year. So he had to give notice to his musicians on Jan.1, 1938.
 
 

Glenn Miller and His Orchestra (1938-1942)
(The band that made it)

Glenn was hesitating for some time, when he was asked to put together another band, and still in January he started looking for musicians, with big help by George Simon. But this time Glenn determined to avoid all the faults of the first try. He now was looking only for young and idealistic musicians that were willing to rate their career higher than their private life.
So there were only four members of the first band left: Hal McIINTYRE, Chummy MacGREGOR, Rolly BUNDOCK and Bob PRICE. Step by step he found the big supports of the new band like Willie SCHWARTZ, Tex BENEKE, Paul TANNER, Al KLINK, Maurice PURTILL, and the vocalists Ray Eberle and Marion Hutton.

Rehearsals again started in the Haven Studios in March. And again the band had its first engagement in the Raymor Ballroom. On May 23 they recorded four titles for Brunswick:
 
Don't Wake Up My Heart
Why'd Ya Make Me Fall In Love 
Sold American
Dipper Mouth Blues
Band:  Glenn MILLER, Brad JENNEY, Al MASTREN (alle tb)
Johnny AUSTIN, Bob PRICE, Gasparre REBITO (alle tp)
Hal McINTYRE (clt, as), Stanley ARONSON (as, bar) Willie SCHWARTZ (clt, as),
TexBENEKE (ts), Sol KANE (ts)
Chummy MacGREGOR (p), Rolly BUNDOCK (b), Bob SPANGLER (d)
Gail RESE, Ray EBERLE (alle voc)

 

The Army Air Force Band (1943-1945)
(For the boys over there)

to be continued