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Roger Miller Biography

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Birth Name: Roger Dean Miller
Born: 1936/01/02
Birth Place: Fort Worth, Texas
Died: 1992/10/25
Years Active: 1957–1992
Genres: Country

Roger Miller was born on January 2, 1936 in Fort Worth, Texas and was a singer, songwriter, musician and actor. He grew up working on a farm but dreamed of a life as a singer and began composing his own songs as a child. Miller joined the army right out of high school and would listen to the Grand Ole Opry and Light Crust Doughboys on a Fort Worth station. His cousin, Sheb Wooley, taught him how to play the guitar, and along with the influence of Hank Williams’ music, Miller set his sights on becoming a singer, and a songwriter. While in the service, Miller played fiddle in the military musical group, “Circle A Wranglers.” Once he was discharged, Miller headed to Nashville to begin his musical career. Settled into Nashville, Miller met Chet Atkins, worked as a bellhop at the Andrew Jackson Hotel, played fiddle for a local band, and met George Jones, who helped secure an audition at Starday Records for Miller.

Miller signed with Tree Publishing and wrote, “Half a Mind” for Ernest Tubb, “That's the Way I Feel” for Faron Young, and “Billy Bayou” and “Home” for Jim Reeves. The success of “Billy Bayou” and “Home” catapulted Miller to overnight stardom as a song writer, he became in-demand and became known as one of the most prolific songwriters of the 1950s.

In 1958 Miller signed a record deal with Decca Records. He then collaborated with Johnny Paycheck, and went on tour with Faron Young's band as their drummer. After the tour he signed a record deal with Chet Atkins at RCA Records and released, “You Don't Want My Love” in 1960, which peaked at #14 on the Billboard Country chart. He followed up with the Top 10 hit, “When Two Worlds Collide.” Miller signed with Smash Records next, however, he was becoming weary of writing songs and wanted to try his hand at acting. His first two releases for Smash were “Dang Me” and “Chug-a-Lug,” peaking at #1 and #3 respectively on Billboard's Country Songs chart and at #7 and #9 on Billboard's Hot 100 Singles chart. Miller's biggest hit, “King of the Road,” came next and peaked at #4 on both the Country and Adult Contemporary charts.

Miller secured his own TV show on NBC in 1966, which was canceled after 13 weeks. 1970 saw Miller release the album “A Trip in the Country,” which was met with moderate success, however a year later Smash Records folded and Miller signed with Columbia Records.

Miller went on to release albums throughout the 1970's, collaborating with artists such as Willie Nelson, but stepped away from music in 1981, until he was lured back to write the music for the Broadway musical “Big River,” which was based upon Mark Twain's “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” He also acted the part of Huck Finn's father Pap for three months after the exit of actor John Goodman, who left for Hollywood. The show earned Miller seven Tony Awards, including Best Score.

After the success of the musical, Miller co-wrote Dwight Yoakam's hit single, “It Only Hurts When I Cry,” which peaked at #7 on Billboard's Country Songs chart. Next he embarked upon a solo guitar tour in 1990, which he ended the following year after Miller was diagnosed with lung cancer. Miller died in 1992, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame three years later.