"The human mind is a wonderful thing, it starts working from before you're born and doesn't stop till you sit down to write a song." - Roger Miller

Happy Birthday Roger Miller!

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Roger Dean Miller (January 2, 1936 – October 25, 1992) was an American musician, songwriter, and actor, best known for his novelty songs inspired by honky tonk and the Nashville sound sub-genre of country music. His notable recordings include "Billy Bayou", Home", and covers of "Tall, Tall Trees" and "Husbands and Wives". His last popular album was a collaboration with Willie Nelson called Old Friends
In his later career, he acted and wrote the music and lyrics for the Broadway musical Big River.

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Roger Miller was born in Fort Worth, Texas to Jean and Laudene Miller. After the death of his father, Roger was sent to live with his aunt and uncle on a farm in Oklahoma. Miller grew up "dirt poor" and later revealed that he did farm work as a child, like cotton picking and plowing, and did not own a telephone.

 

 

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In high school, Miller was influenced by his cousin's husband, Sheb Wooley, a character actor and singer who appeared in several western themed films and television programs. Wooley taught Miller the basics of guitar, and bought him a fiddle. When Miller was 17, he stole a guitar out of the desire to write music, but turned himself in the next day. Miller enlisted in the Army to avoid jail.

After his discharge, Miller went to Nashville to begin his musical career. He quickly became acquainted with fellow musicians Chet Atkins, who loaned Miller his guitar, Minnie Pearl, and George Jones, with whom Miller wrote the songs "Tall, Tall Trees" and "Happy Child".

 

After getting married and having a child, Miller attempted to put his music career on hold, and become a fireman. However, after apparently sleeping through a fire, he was encouraged to "seek other employment". Miller began writing music for other performers, such as "Invitation to the Blues", covered by Rex Ryan and then Ray Price. He wrote: "Half a Mind" for Ernest Tubb, "That's the Way I Feel" for Faron Young; and his first number one, "Billy Bayou," which along with "Home" were recorded by Jim Reeves.

 

Out of Miller's own recording career, his most popular songs included "Dang Me", "Chug-a-Lug", and "King of the Road", which earned Miller many awards and was eventually certified gold. In 1966 he released another hit song, "Husbands and Wives".

 

(the above video, and others, may have a buffer period of a few seconds before the music starts)

 

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 Roger Miller as the guest on The Muppet Show, as the gang deals with an outbreak of "cluckitis".

(Episode 321, 1979)

In 1966, Miller was given his own show on NBC, following a series of successful performances on the late night television circuit, but it was cancelled after 13 weeks. In 1973, Miller released an album called Dear Folks: Sorry I Haven't Written Lately. Later that year, Miller wrote and performed three songs in the Walt Disney animated feature Robin Hood as the rooster/minstrel Alan-a-Dale, including "Whistle-Stop". He also provided the voice of Speiltoe, the equine narrator of the Rankin/Bass holiday special Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey in 1978.

 

 

Miller said that "You Can't Rollerskate in a Buffalo Herd" was his favorite song that he ever wrote.

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In his later career, Miller received an offer to write the score for a musical based on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Although he had never read the novel, Miller accepted the offer because he felt it connected to his own childhood in Oklahoma. The music earned Miller seven Tony Awards, including "Best Score". H also took over the role of Huck's father Pap, after actor John Goodman left the role.

Miller died from lung cancer in 1992, and was posthumously inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame three years later. The Roger Miller Museum in his home town serves as a tribute to Miller.

 

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Thursday, 02 January 2014
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