Roger Miller is one of the legends in the country music industry that his songs are still being covered by various artists. Today, we commemorate the 27th Death Anniversary of a genius singer-songwriter behind the song “King of the Road.”
Roger Miller the Songwriter
Roger Miller got his first big break when he was hired by Minnie Pearl to play fiddle in her band. Then he met George Jones who introduced him to Starday Records. They wrote “Tall, Tall Trees” and “Happy Child” together. This was the start of his career as a Nashville songwriter.
“The Songwriters in Nashville would follow him around and pick up his droppings because everything he said was a potential song. He spoke in songs.” Buddy Killen
His Singing Career
It was his work with Smash Records that made Miller garner awards and put his career to the top. “Dang Me” and “Chug-a-lug” became quick hits. He received five Grammy Awards, including the Writer’s Award for Best Country and Western Song for “Dang Me,” and Best New Country and Western Artist.
“King of the Road” was number 1 on the Country chart in March and it stayed there for 5 weeks. It got to number 4 on the Pop chart and was certified Gold for sales of a million copies. It also won 1965 Grammy awards for Best Contemporary Rock ‘N Roll Single, Best Contemporary Vocal Performance, Best Country & Western Recording, Best Country Vocal Performance, and Best Country Song.
In the ’70s, Miller created the album “A Trip in the Country.” The songs “Invitation to the Blues,” “Tall, Tall Trees,” “That’s the Way I Feel,” and “Half a Mind,” and “Don’t We All Have the Right” were included in the album. He also wrote and sang songs for the Disney cartoon “Robin Hood.”
In the ’80s, he wrote “Old Friends” which he sang with Willie Nelson and Ray Price. Then he wrote a Broadway score for Big River, a musical based on Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Roger Miller received the “Best Score” Tony Award for this musical. To date, he is still the only country artist to win a Tony Award.
Miller found out he had lung cancer in 1991. His last performance was during the CMA week in Nashville. Publicly, he refused to let his illness faze him. After a year of treatment, Roger Miller died at the Century City Hospital on October 25, 1992, at the young age of 56.
In 1995, Miller was posthumously inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame for his indelible contribution to the industry.
On August 31, 2018, the album King of the Road: A Tribute to Roger Miller was released. It is a collection of reimagined versions of Miller’s biggest hits. Other artists who contributed to the project include Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Eric Church, Kacey Musgraves, Shooter Jennings, Jessi Colter, and Jamey Johnson.
Roger Miller, you will never be forgotten!
Watch various artists sing “King of the Road” here: