Sunday, May 6, 2018
The first Glenn Miller Orchestra did not make it at all. It was a total and absolute economic failure. But Glenn knew what he wanted, held to that dedication and relentlessly worked to succeed. He launched his second band – the one that lives on today – in March of 1938 and became one of the most successful of all dance bandleaders back in the Swing Era of the 1930’s and 40’s.
Glenn disbanded his musical organization in 1942 at the height of its popularity to volunteer for the Army and organize the famous Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band. It went to Europe to entertain servicemen, performing numerous live and radio shows. On December 15, 1944, Major Miller took off in a single-engine plane to precede his band to France, disappearing over the English Channel, never to be seen again. The Army declared him officially dead a year later.
On June 6, 1956, under the direction of drummer Ray McKinley, who had become the unofficial leader of the Army Air Force Band after Glenn’s disappearance, the reformed Glenn Miller Orchestra performed its first concert and has been on the road ever since. Today, the 18-member ensemble continues to play many of the original Miller arrangements both from the civilian band and the AAFB libraries. Just as it was in Glenn’s day, the Glenn Miller Orchestra today is still the most sought-after big band in the world.