King Of The Road
Roger Dean Miller was born on Jan. 2, 1936, in Ft. Worth, Texas, the youngest of 3 boys. His father died when he was young, and his mother, shortly thereafter, became seriously ill. Each of his father's 3 brothers took in one of the boys, and Roger moved to Oklahoma, where he learned to play fiddle.
Roger quit school in the 8th grade and worked odd jobs, until he served in the military during the Korean War. During the last year of his hitch, he played in a country band. A sergeant got Roger an audition with Chet Atkins at RCA Records in 1957. Nothing came of the audition, but Roger stayed, working as a bellboy, getting occasional songs recorded, and recording a few himself on a small label. He eventually got jobs playing in the road bands of Minnie Pearl, Faron Young and Ray Price.
He moved back to Amarillo and was hired to play fiddle for Ray Price's Cherokee Cowboys. Roger penned a song for Ray, which turned out to be a monster hit for Ray. Roger soon became on of the hottest songwriters around, writing such hits as "Half A Mind" for Ernest Tubb, "That's The Way I Feel" for Faron Young, and "Billy Bayou", "If A Heartache Is The Fashion" and "Home" for Jim Reeves.
However, by 1964, Roger got the acting bug and wanted to leave Nashville to head for Hollywood to pursue acting. To raise money for his new pursuit, Roger did a massive recording session for Mercury, which netted him $1800 to fund his moving expenses. The session produced 18 songs, including "Dang Me" and "Chug A Lug". The label started releasing the songs, and out of left field, Roger's music career took off into the stratosphere. In 1964, "Dang Me" became a monster hit, spending 6 weeks at #1, and wound up garnering Roger 5 Grammy Awards. Roger quickly ditched his acting aspirations.
The following year, Roger followed up winning his 5 Grammy statues, by adding another 6 to his collection, as a result of another monster hit, "King Of The Road", which held the #1 spot for 5 weeks in 1965, and sold over a million copies.
Roger remained a prolific songwriter, but when his career cooled in the 80's, he turned his attention to Broadway, writing the score for the musical "Big River". "Big River" nabbed 7 Tony awards, including best musical, in 1985.
Roger Miller died October 25, 1992 of cancer.
Roger Miller Quote's
(Talking about the connection between pop and country music) "Pop derives from popular. And popular applies to the masses, and the masses rhymes with molasses, and that means country."
(on songwriting) "I start with a catch phrase or an idea and then sometimes the bridge of the song will come first before I even know what the idea's about, other times the song is halfway through before I know what the song's about, and sometimes the story will change halfway through. I'll take the first line and I'll sing it, like running up to a wall, and just before I hit that wall the second line will come to me, by forcing myself to sing it. Eventually I find I've gotten the wall to move enough to show me the whole song."
(Editor's Note: Roger Miller was my Uncle, and was the most humorous man I ever met in my life. I remember living in Kansas City in 1963, he came for dinner and played songs for us. He loved to laugh and make others laugh - GATOR)