Possibly the most famous jazz musician of all time, Glenn Miller could do it all: compose, arrange and direct and he did so with vigor throughout the glorious swing time era of the 1930s and 40s.
One of the best selling recording artists from 1939 to 1944, his big band orchestra had hit upon hit upon hit over their years in the spotlight. Appearing in many classic films, including ‘Sun Valley Serenade’ and ‘Orchestra Wives’, Glenn had it all and impressed such stars as Louis Armstrong, who confessed to carrying around Miller’s seven-inch tape reels whilst he was on tour.
Despite entertaining and boosting spirits for many years beforehand, Miller decided he wanted to do more once war was declared against Germany. At 38, he was too old to be drafted, however, he managed to persuade the US Army to accept him so he could be placed in charge of his own military band.
On December 15, 1944, Miller was due to fly from the UK to Paris to continue entertaining the soldiers at their army barracks. His plane departed from Twinwood Farm in Clapham that evening, however in flight it disappeared somewhere over the English Channel.
No traces of the plane, the crew, soldiers or Glenn Miller have ever been found. His status from that night has always remained: “Missing in Action.”
Several theorists have examined what could have happened that evening, including the plane being shot down by enemy or allied forces. Some also claim that Glenn Miller had a heart-attack in France whilst cavorting with a French prostitute – a story some believe the US airforce covered up to protect his memory and untarnished image. This theory, as with many has remained just that.
Despite this tragedy, Glenn Miller and his big band legacy live on. Below are a couple of my favourite tunes of his – perhaps the most famous – In the Mood and also the wonderful Chattanooga Choo Choo from ‘Sun Valley Serenade’.
In a bit, folks!🙂