“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”
I’m sure not many of you will have heard of the Missouri Mass Murderer, but that’s probably because I just made it up to get a catchy title for this blog post.
Nevertheless there was such a person and she could even be described as a serial killer such was the number of her victims.
Born in Joplin, Missouri, her name was Elva Ruby Connes Miller and she murdered some of the best songs ever written. In fact she tortured some of them to death in the most horrific manner.
Despite having studied music, voice, and composition at Pomona College, the woman could not sing. She had not a note in her body. Tone deaf does not even begin to describe it. Shrill, out of key, horrendous vibrato when completely uncalled for. You name a wrong way of doing it and she did it. It was carnage.
Curiously, sometimes when someone does something particularly badly it turns out to be something you have to look at, or in this case listen to. And when you hear one song, you need to hear another just to make sure she was as bad as you thought.
Not surprisingly Mrs Miller had to self finance her first recordings but was eventually featured by KMPC disc jockey (and later Laugh-In announcer) Gary Owens on his radio program. Around the same time, 1960, she also appeared on a limited-run album of his comedy routines. Owens can therefore be blamed – sorry, credited – as the person who first discovered her.
Astonishingly Miller was signed to Capitol Records by Lex de Azevedo, a young up-and-coming producer at the label, although nowadays he apparently does not care to discuss his involvement with Miller!
Equally astonishingly, her first LP, ironically titled “Mrs. Miller’s Greatest Hits”, appeared in 1966 and sold over 250,000 copies in its first three weeks! She sang for US servicemen in Vietnam (they should probably have got her to sing to the Viet Cong), performed at the Hollywood Bowl, guest starred on numerous television shows, and appeared in Roddy McDowall’s film The Cool Ones.
But her fame was short-lived. Interest in Miller soon waned. She was dropped by Capitol and, in 1968, and released her final album, “Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing”, on the Amaret label. She later issued several singles on her own Vibrato Records label, then retired from singing in the early 1970s. She died in 1997 in Garden Terrace Retirement Center, in Vista, California.
A friend of mine introduced me to Mrs Miller’s noise (I won’t dignify it by calling it music) a few years ago when he gave me a CD of her greatest hits.
But bad as it certainly is, I have put it to good use over the years. I like to take it to other people’s houses, or when we are in the car. I “big” up this great singer I have discovered, pop the CD into the player and then watch the utter confusion and dismay on their faces as they listen to what Mrs Miller has to offer.
Below are a few examples of her crimes. Tunes you may be familiar with “A Groovy Kind Of Love”, The Girl From Ipanema”, “Let’s Hang On”, Strangers In The Night”, “A Hard Days Night”, “Downtown”, and “These Boots Are Made For Walkin”. There are others on youtube.com if you get hooked, just do a search for Mrs Miller.
I usually say “Enjoy” at this point in my posts. However, today I do not think it is appropriate. Although I should perhaps add the disclaimer that, if you are of a sensitive nature you may find the following upsetting.
A Groovy Kind Of Love
The Girl From Ipanema
Let’s Hang On
Strangers In The Night
A Hard Days Night
These Boots Are Made For Walkin