Mitch Miller, the man who popularized sing-along performances before the invention of karaoke, has passed away at the age of 99 years old. He was was an American musician, singer, conductor, record producer, A&R man and record company executive. He was considered one of the most influential figures in American popular music during the 1950s and early 1960s.
My dad loved this guy’s music. I used to hear Mitch Miller music all the time when I was growing up. It used to drive me up the wall, actually.
While Mitch Miller was very successful in the music industry, he just didn’t understand rock & roll music. He called it “musical illiteracy.” In fact, when he was in charge of A&R at Columbia Records, he turned down a chance to sign Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly. It was something of a miracle that Columbia Records signed Paul Revere & the Raiders to the label. The biggest record label in the world was slow to the party, and Paul Revere & company were the first to break the glass ceiling, so to speak.
In 1996, he told the Boston Globe, “I can’t get interested in people who can only sing songs with three chords in them.”
I’m sure LOUIE LOUIE was on the top of the list of songs that he hated. It certainly wasn’t his idea of a “party song.”
Rest in peace, Mitch.
POST-NOTE: Truth be told, I do love the idea that Mitch Miller talked Frank Sinatra into recording the song “Mama Will Bark,” with TV actress-comedian Dagmar. It’s a classic number that must be heard to be believed!