Mitch Miller RIP: Legendary record executive and orchestra leader dies at age 99

mitch-millerImage Credit: GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty ImagesLegendary Columbia Records executive and orchestra leader Mitch Miller died on Saturday at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital, according to the AP. He was 99.

Miller began his career as a classical oboist and in 1936 joined the CBS Symphony Orchestra. By the end of the ’40s he was working as an A&R man and in 1950 was appointed head of Columbia’s pop music department, where he oversaw the careers of Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, and Rosemary Clooney amongst others.

In the late ’50s and early ’60s, Miller himself became a bestselling artist with a string of “sing along” albums which featured recordings of musical standards. He also hosted a hugely successful TV show, Sing Along with Mitch, on which Miller would encourage viewers to “follow the bouncing ball” on the screen as it tracked a song’s lyrics.

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Comments (18 total) Add your comment
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  • Buffy Freak

    I grew up wth my grandparents playing his music, especially his Christmas albums. Rest in peace Mitch!

  • Diana

    Add me to the list of those who grew up on his Christmas album; it was a staple in our house! I own the album on CD now and while my friends make fun of me for playing it, it screams childhood to me.

  • Vicky

    My mom LOVES his Christmas Albums! Sometimes you’ll catching me humming along to “Must Be Santa.”

    • Jill

      Mine too and me too!
      My mom passed out the sheets with words and we all had to sing along.

  • KevinG

    Sad news, he was one of my grandmother’s favorites, I can remember watching the TV show with her.

  • Anon

    He was still alive? REALLY?

    • alan of montreal

      I was surprised, as well. Guess he successfully managed to keep an extraordinarily low profile all these years

  • Scott

    Yep, I was also one that grew up hearing his Christmas album every Christmas morning while spending time with the family and ripping open presents and drinking hot chocolate. When I was little, his voice meant Santa had stopped by. Rest in Peace, Mitch.

  • znachki

    Oh, the Christmas albums…I still listen to them.

    I remember watching the show when I was little – the way he held his hands when he directed always kind of freaked me out!

    The other thing I remember is that Bob McGrath from Seasame Street used to be in his choir.

  • jfms777

    I remember everything that everyone has said. And I remember (when he headed Columbia Records) he thought an up-and-coming singer was going to be HUGE. That singer was Barbra Streisand.

  • Clark’s 11th grade English teacher

    Clark, Clark, Clark. There is a word for someone who plays the oboe. It is not “oboe-ist”. Someone who plays the oboe is an “oboist”. Also, someone who CAN play the oboe but chooses NOT to is a “GENTLEMAN”.

  • ice castle

    I remember watching “Sing Along with Mitch” in the early 1960s. Bob McGrath (Bob of Sesame Street) was a young tenor with horrible teeth. Once he got his teeth fixed, he went on to better things (if you call Sesame Street better things). Rest in peace, Mitch. You brought wholesome entertainment to a lot of people.

  • mydolfan

    WOW, my family watched his shows all the time, I remember a very young lady names ” Lesile Uggams” who was and is a wonderful singer.
    May you rest in peace Mitch, you will be missed!!

  • harry

    R.I.P. Mitch!!!

  • Paul

    Another Christmas album alumnus. Glad to hear you had a long life, and I hope it was a happy one. God bless you, Mitch!

  • Billy

    RIP

  • riley

    I don’t remember too much about this guy. but he sounded like a really neat person! and may he rest in peace too!

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