Glenn Miller was born Alton Glenn Miller in Clarinda, Iowa on March 1, 1904. His family moved several times during childhood. During a move to Nebraska, Miller’s father bought him a mandolin. In Missouri, he bought a trombone and began playing in the town orchestra. In Fort Morgan, Colorado, Miller joined his high school band. After graduating high school in 1921, he joined a string of bands in Los Angeles and New York City. He briefly attended the University of Colorado, but dropped out to pursue music. He married Helen Burger in 1928. Miller then worked for the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra, organized an orchestra for Ray Noble, and studied music theory and composition with Joseph Schillinger.
Miller first recorded under his own name in 1934, while still working with the Noble orchestra. Then, in 1937, he tried to form his own band, which gained little popularity. After disbanding and then reorganizing his group, Miller finally found success in 1938, when the new Glenn Miller Orchestra got an engagement at the Glen Island Casino in New Rochelle, New York.
For five years, the band enjoyed wild success. They earned the first-ever gold record from RCA Victor for “Chattanooga Choo Choo.”
Glenn Miller’s Orchestra attained its popularity because of the band’s unique style and sound. While jazz music is characterized by its spontaneity and use of improvisation, The Glenn Miller Orchestra played swing music, an offshoot of jazz that favors orchestration rather than improvisation.
In 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force leaving behind civilian life but not his music. Appointed as a captain in the Army Specialist Corps, he devoted himself to raising soldiers’ morale by modernizing the army band. After completing basic training, Miller organized the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band, which has been acclaimed by some as his best musical group.
Like Miller’s previous endeavors, the Army Air Force Band was a great triumph. Miller and his group kept up a hectic schedule of tours and performances. During its time, the band gave over 800 performances, more than 300 of which were personal appearances. The other 500 were broadcasts heard by millions of listeners.
As his band prepared to embark on a tour of Europe, Miller boarded a flight to Paris on Dec. 15, 1944, to make preparatory arrangements for the rest of his group. Sadly, the transport on which Miller was a passenger disappeared over the English Channel and was never recovered.
Miller is remembered for his influence on the success of swing music and for his patriotic service. The Glenn Miller Orchestra was restarted in 1946 as tribute, but didn’t take off. It wasn’t until “The Glenn Miller Story” movie, starring James Stewart and June Allyson, was released in 1953 that demand grew to bring the orchestra back. They regrouped in 1956 and have been playing regular shows ever since.
— Source: www.glennmiller.com.