1904 — Glenn Miller born

Born in Clarinda, Iowa, Glenn Miller grew up wanting to be a musician. When he was 11, he finally saved enough money to buy himself a trombone, and joined the town orchestra of Grant City, Missouri (to which his parents had moved that year). Miller became interested in a then-new style of music – the style he would later become famous for – and in 1918, formed his first band.

He played in many bands over the next two decades, slowly rising to become one of the best known bandleaders, musicians and composers of his time. Among his best known songs were such classics as “Pennsylvania 6-5000”, “Moonlight Serenade” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo”. To this day, he remains one of the most influential musicians of the twentieth century.

Referenced in:

Green Onions — The Blues Brothers

1944 — Glenn Miller disappears

Glenn Miller was one of the most famous band leaders of the Big Band era. His Glenn Miller Orchestra was one of the best known and most popular bands of its time, and Miller was the lead singer, trombonist and principal songwriter for it. Among his songs are such standards as “In the Mood”, “Moonlight Serenade”, “Pennsylvania 6-5000” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo”.

A staunch patriot, Miller attempted to join the US Navy in 1942, but was rejected for being too old (he was 38 at the time). The Air Force proved more welcoming, and although he saw no active duty, Miller was highly active in the Army Air Force Band, quickly becoming its bandleader and performing a weekly radio broadcast as both DJ and leader of the house band.

In 1944, the Army Air Force Band, now a 50 piece ensemble, went to England, where they performed more than 800 engagements over the course of the second half of 1944. Miller also recorded songs in German that were broadcast to Nazi-held regions as propaganda. On the night he disappeared, Miller was flying to the recently-liberated Paris to play for Allied troops there. His plane was lost with all hands as it crossed the English Channel. No trace of the plane or its passengers was ever found. The Glenn Miller Orchestra carries on his Miller’s name to this day.

Referenced in:

Green Onions — The Blues Brothers