Glenn Miller at a Glance
Glenn Miller was an American big band leader, trombone player, and veteran. He was born in Clarinda, Iowa on March 1st, 1904. After early childhood the family moved to a small farm in Missouri. Miller used the money he saved up working on the farm to buy his first trombone around age 14, which he used to play in a local orchestra. Eventually, the family moved again to Colorado, where Miller would attend high school and eventually go on to attend the University of Colorado.
Having discovered his love for dance and band music in his late years of high school, Miller decided to pursue becoming a professional musician early in life. This being the case, his music took over his life, causing him to do poorly in college. He then decided to drop out and fully commit to being a musician. Miller studied with the legendary composer and music theorist, Joseph Schillinger and later played for musicians such as Ben Pollack and Victor Young. Realizing this was not the way forward, he transitioned into composing his own music. Miller continued to grow his reputation and eventually became a successful band leader, as well as playing in a number of Broadway musicals. Miller was the first gold record for record label RCA with the single “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” that sold over 1.2 million copies. Following the success of the Miller orchestra, Miller heard the call of duty and entered the Army Air Forces Band.
Miller first tried to join the Navy, but at 38 years old, he was rejected. He convinced the Army to let him join to modernize the Army band. He was sent to Omaha, then later transferred to the Army Air Forces service. Miller played in a 15 piece dance music group at service clubs, and also formed a marching band during his time in the military.
When Miller was sent to Europe to precede his band’s deployment, he went missing. He was meant to fly from England to France, but the small aircraft carrying him went missing somewhere over the English channel. Miller was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, for the incredible contribution he made to increasing morale of the troop while commanding his band. Miller is remembered as a legendary jazz musician and a purveyor of the modernization of Army Bands.