He made a few records himself, and had a big choral hit with "The Yellow Rose of Texas." Yes, Mitch Miller was doing pretty well. But there was one thing Mitch Miller didn't like: rock music. It wasn't his kind of music, the music that had been so successful for him for so long. So he decided to fight back, with what was called the "Sing-along" album, recordings of old favorites with the lyrics printed on the cover so listeners could sing along with Mitch and the gang.
And when Sing Along With Mitch debuted on television in 1961, Mitch Miller became a star.
Sing Along With Mitch was an instant surprise hit, reaching #15 in its first season. It slaughtered The Untouchables (perhaps the most violent program on television at the time). It spawned the successful singing career of Leslie Uggams. It introduced us to Bob McGrath, of Sesame Street fame, who was a longtime singalongers. Not bad.
Today I suppose it's hard to imagine a show like that being a hit, but then back in the day, almost anything was possible on television. It's - well, it's unfortunate that TV, with its astounding technological advances, is in many ways far less advanced than it was when it depended on the incredible creativity of its pioneers. But, as with so many other things, that's a story for another day. The story for this day is Mitch Miller, who was born on the 4th of July and died this weekend at 99. ◙