(Roughly) Daily

Remembrance of Things Past…

(…where Randall Munroe observes that “an ‘American Tradition’ is anything that happened to a Boomer twice.”)


As we wax nostalgic, we might might spare a thought for musician, composer, arranger, and bandleader Glenn Miller; he died on this date in 1944.  By the early 40s, Miller and his band had become huge stars: In 1939, Time noted: “Of the twelve to 24 discs in each of today’s 300,000 U.S. jukeboxes, from two to six are usually Glenn Miller.”  His recording of “Tuxedo Junction” smashed records (pun intended) when it sold 115,000 copies in its first week; in 1942, Miller received the very first Gold Record (for “Chattanooga Choo-Choo”).

When the U.S. entered World War II, Miller was 38, too old to be drafted.  But he persuaded the U.S. Army to accept him so that he could, in his own words, “be placed in charge of a modernized Army band.”  Miller played a number of musical roles in the service, ultimately forming the 50-piece Army Air Force Band, which he took to England in the summer of 1944, where he gave 800 performances, and recorded (at Abbey Road Studios) material that was broadcast both as a morale boost of far-flung troops and as propaganda.  On December 15, 1944, Miller boarded a small plane to fly from Bedford, outside of London, to Paris, to play a Christmas concert for soldiers there.  His plane went down over the Channel; he is still officially listed as “missing in action.”


Written by (Roughly) Daily

December 15, 2011 at 1:01 am

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