Wednesday’s (8/4) Wall Street Journal includes an appreciation piece by Will Friedwald on Mitch Miller, who died July 31 at the age of 99. The Eastman-trained oboist, conductor, and producer “collaborated with George Gershwin, Charlie Parker, Igor Stravinsky, Leopold Stokowski and Frank Sinatra…. [He] became the face of the sing-along craze of the early ‘60s through a series of bestselling albums and a long-running TV series. But it was as a producer—quite possibly the first ‘modern’ producer in all of American pop—that Mitchell William Miller exerted his greatest influence. He not only played a key role in the careers of Sinatra, Doris Day, Lee Wiley, Frankie Laine, Rosemary Clooney, [Tony] Bennett and dozens of others, but he virtually invented the job of the pop-music producer.” Miller “worked his way through two start-up labels, serving as head of classical music for Keynote Records in 1947, and then taking over at Mercury Records a year or so later…. By 1950, when he was hired to run the singles division for Columbia Records, Miller had transformed himself into the prince of pop. … He helped the industry mushroom from a mom-and-pop operation into the behemoth of Walmart-like proportions that it remained for the next 50 years.” 

Posted August 4, 2010