A Portrait of Glenn Miller

Written by Phin Upham

Glenn Miller was born on a farm in Iowa. From those humble beginnings, one of the world’s premier jazz and swing musicians would come.

Miller bought his first instrument, a trombone, when he was 11 years old. His original instruments were the cornet and the mandolin, but he changed to the trombone exclusively by 1916. His family relocated to Colorado during this time, which is where Miller went to high school.

Until 1921, music was little more than a hobby to Miller. A hobby he was good at, but still not worth pursuing legitimately. That all changed when Miller was introduced to “dance band music.”

Miller fell in with a good crowd when he relocated to Los Angeles. There he found a place in a set-piece band that backed Judy Garland and Bing Crosby. He studied under mentors like Victor Young and Bern Pollack. Miller was an accomplished soloist until his time with Jack Teargarden, where his solos were cut almost entirely from performances. It was then that Miller realized his talents were more geared toward writing music than performing it.

Glen Miller revitalized himself in 1938, when he found a new sound combination that used melodic tones matched against a tenor saxophone. This new style differentiated Miller’s band from others at the time, even landing them a spot three times a week on a broadcast on CBS promoting Chesterfield cigarettes.

Glenn Miller mysteriously disappeared on a flight bound for the United Kingdom in 1944. He flew a single engine plane, and disappeared somewhere over the English Channel. His body was never recovered, and his status is listed as “Missing in Action.”

Phin Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Twitter page.

Comments are closed