The career of Glenn Miller, born Alton Glenn Miller on March 1, 1904, was far too brief. The trombonist and bandleader earned his first gold record in 1942, but he disappeared without a trace while serving his country in 1944.
Miller was born in Clarinda, Iowa, and picked up the trombone as a young boy growing up on a Missouri farm. Following another family move, Miller went on to college at the University of Colorado at Boulder, often performing with dance bands and composing his own music. He dropped out of school and played trombone with different groups, eventually forming his own band in 1937.
Success would arrive the following year, with a move to New York, a new group with a distinctive swing sound, and a recording contract.
Radio play brought Miller international fame with hits like Moonlight Serenade, In the Mood and Tuxedo Junction.
In 1941, Miller released Chattanooga Choo Choo, which would go on to become Miller's first gold record, selling more than a million copies.
At the height of his fame, Miller decided to support the U.S. war effort by joining the service at age 38 and entertaining the troops. While on a flight to Paris on Dec. 15, 1944, Miller and two others were lost when the plane they were traveling in vanished over the English Channel.
The American Music commemorative stamp series began in 1993, and Glenn Miller was included in a set honoring big band leaders that was issued Sept. 11, 1996. Bill Nelson illustrated the 32¢ stamp (Scott 3098), which shows Miller with his trombone.
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