Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Mitch Miller, 1911-2010. R.I.P.

Mitch Miller, musical conductor, impresario, and the host of the popular television show “Sing Along with Mitch,” has died at the age of ninety-nine.

Mitch now will be singing along with the Choir Eternal... while those of us left here on Earth will needs consider singing a dirge.

Despite the fact that Miller had already made his reputation as a highly influential record producer and orchestra leader, it was “Sing Along with Mitch” that made him a household name during its 1961-64 original run. The music on his show was old-timey, even a bit hokey - typical songs were “You Are My Sunshine,” “By The Light of the Silvery Moon,” and “Down By the Old Mill Stream” - but America, then only beginning its love affair with rock ‘n’ roll, ate it up. A male chorus would sing while viewers at home were encouraged to join in, following the bouncing ball as it worked its way through the lyrics. It resembled nothing so much as a primitive version of karaoke... with much douchier music.

Miller was no fan of rock ‘n’ roll. Instead of artists like Elvis Presley and Buddy Holley, his tastes ran more to Patti Page, Ray Conniff, and Percy Faith. He oversaw the production of plenty of hits, but had an unfortunate love for novelty records (think Rosemary Clooney singing “Come on-a My House”), nearly torpedoing Frank Sinatra’s career by having him do songs like “Mama Will Bark” and “The Hucklebuck.” You remember that one:

Here’s a dance you should know
When the lights are down low
Grab your baby, then go

Do the Hucklebuck (do the Hucklebuck)
Do the Hucklebuck (do the Hucklebuck)
If ya don’t know how to do it
Boy, you’re out of luck (boy, you’re out of luck)...

Classic... not.

With Mitch Miller’s passing, an era in American popular culture comes to an end. I, for one, will not miss it.

Requiescat in pace, Mitchy. When they play your Funeral Song, we’ll all sing along.


Nor Grebnief said...

Mitch Miller was the bookend of the family Grenbnief's musical vibe in the early '60s. Our week just wasn't complete without 30 minutes with Mitch and a frickin hour with, that's right, Lawrence (ah-won-a-ful, ah-won-a-ful) Welk!

Teresa said...

My parents were huge fans of all of them. We watched Mitch Miller every week. They had all the records and everything. But my parents were much older than most at that time and they grew up during the depression. I figure - whatever made them happy - and Mitch's music did. Then again I was never really into music at all not even rock and roll. LOL.

BobG said...

Grew up hearing his stuff on TV and on the radio. I thought he had died years ago.

gregor said...

He was also a very talented English Horn and Oboe player, and was featured on several classical recordings. He recorded his classical works under the name Mitchel Miller.