John Miller Orchestra

 

About the John Miller Orchestra. . .

The John Miller Orchestra - formerly The Herb Miller Orchestra - is the only Big Band performing the music of Glenn Miller with direct family links to the great man himself, in the form of John Miller, his nephew. In the Miller family, there were three brothers and a sister. In order of appearance they were Dean, Glenn, Herb and Irene. Herb was John's father which makes Glenn, John's uncle.

Herb Miller

Herb Miller developed his musical talent very much under the guidance of his elder brother Glenn, and went on to form various bands in America. Herb's budding career was cut short by a stint in the Army at Fort Ord California where, after his discharge, he settled in Pacific Grove on the Southern tip of the Monterey Bay. There, to great acclaim, he taught music in several schools and, being a practical man, personally built a house big enough to rehearse a big band in and, probably secondarily, raise his four children. Music was always the main driving force, focal point and ultimate aim of Herb Miller.

Many years after the disappearance of Glenn, Herb was given the oportunity and decided he wanted to recreate the Miller Magic and form an orchestra to play the music of his brother. Herb had worked in America for many years with his son John. John started playing bass with his father's band at the tender age of 15 and shortly thereafter, in addition, became the band's singer. Nepotism was alive and well in the Miller family. Herb's oldest daughter came into the band on piano, his youngest son, in time, joined the trumpet section and the baby of the family, Janet, started singing at 12.

When they decided to form the Herb Miller Orchestra in Great Britian John became his business partner, and the featured singer with the band. John and Herb built an organisation which now contains some of the best musicians in the country. There are still two of the original members that have been with the band for 32 years and the rest range in service time from 30 years down to 12 years with the odd "newcomer" with only 4 or 5 years on the roster.

Sadly, Herb Miller died in September 1987 just days before a 28 date tour of Norway, Denmark and Sweden. John Miller took over the direction of The Herb Miller Orchestra and with the help of his loyal and supportive crew sailed through the Scandinavian tour so successfully that the band was asked to come back and tour twice more. 15 years after Herb's passing, it was decided that the band should be renamed. The John Miller Orchestra was born.

John, with his unique brand of Yankee showmanship, humour and personality has given this already sterling organisation a reputation of "a good time for all" including the band! John says: "They're having such a good time, I sometimes wonder why I bother to pay them!" John has the uncanny ability to reach a crowd whether it is in the small confines of a smokey bar or the vast expanse of Hyde Park to ten thousand plus. The musicians have been chosen not just for their musicial expertise but also for their amiable personalities. They have a good time and spread joy where ever they go.

John Miller and Fiona Paige

And then there's the "Sweetheart of the John Miller Orchestra", vocalist Fiona Paige.

John says: "It's hard for me to write about Fiona Paige as I tend to have an uncontrolable urge to gush. Years ago, the then band manager and I were auditioning new singers and we knocked on her door. It was opened by a 'Dream in a Pinny'. She said: "Hi, come on in and sit down. Would you like a cup of tea?" She went in to the kitchen and I signalled to the manager that she was the one. I didn't even know if she could brew a cuppa, let alone sing, but I KNEW she was it. All this time later, I have been proved right."

Fiona is at the centre of the great Modernaires numbers like "Chattanooga Choo Choo", "I've Gotta Gal In Kalamazoo" and "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree". As Fiona is an ex dancer, she brings years of professionalism, energy and an extra dimension and definition to the term Big Band singer. When she sings, she really tells a story in sound and movement. She is a show in herself. To see her is to love her.

The Orchestra has extensively toured in the UK, France, Belgium, The Canary Islands and the Scandinavian Countries - to name but a few - recreating the classical Glenn Miller sound for the pleasure of thousands of listeners, so keeping alive the family connection with the music of his uncle, Glenn.