Bob Miller

Induction Year: 1970

Birth Name: Morris Miller

Birth Date: 09-20-1895

Place of Birth: Ansonia, Connecticut

Death Date: 08-26-1955

Place of Death: New York, New York

Along with Billy Hill and Carson Robison, Bob Miller was among the pioneering professional songwriters who specialized in what was then called hillbilly music. Miller wrote some of the biggest hits of the 1930s and '40s and was also a prolific recording artist.

Born in 1895 in Ansonia, Connecticut, Bob and his four siblings were placed in an orphanage in Memphis, Tennessee, around 1904 after their parents died in a house fire. By age 10, Bob, who was a formally trained musician, began working professionally as a pianist. In his early twenties, he performed in the dance band that sailed on the Mississippi River aboard the showboat Idlewild. He also worked in the Memphis nightclub Dreamland and opened his own Beale Street Music Shop.

In 1928, Miller moved to New York, where he initially worked as a copyist and arranger for Irving Berlin Music. He formed his own publishing company in 1933, and also worked as an A&R man and record producer for the Columbia and Okeh labels.

Bob Miller has more than a thousand registered song copyrights, although many of those are public-domain folk songs, Christmas carols and 19th-century Stephen Foster chestnuts that he arranged, rather than wrote. But he did truly compose a number of songs that became enormous country favorites.

His biggest early hit was the prison song "Twenty-One Years." During The Great Depression, this song was so popular and was sung by so many artists that Miller wrote a number of follow-up songs to it, including "Twenty-One Years, Part Two," "New Twenty-One Years," "Answer to Twenty-One Years," "Woman's Answer to Twenty-One Years," "After Twenty-One Years," "The End of Twenty-One Years" and "The Last of the Twenty-One Year Prisoner."

Similarly, "Seven Years with the Wrong Woman" was so omnipresent in Depression-era country music that it also spawned sequels. These included, inevitably, "Seven Years with the Wrong Man" and, humorously, "Seven Beers with the Wrong Woman" and "Seven Beers with the Wrong Man."

Perhaps his most enduring song from the Depression was the sentimental "Rocking Alone in an Old Rocking Chair," which is still sung by folk and country performers today.

Miller's activity in the 1940s was no less impressive. His million-selling "There's a Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere," recorded by Elton Britt, was one of the biggest hits of World War II. That song, too, spawned a sequel in 1960 when Dave McEnery combined Miller’s melody with new lyrics for "There's a Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere #2 - The Ballad of Francis Powers" in tribute to U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers, whose plane was shot down over the Soviet Union. Miller’s "Chime Bells," also recorded by Elton Britt, became a yodeling standard.

Bob Miller wrote and recorded under a number of pseudonyms, including Shelby Darnell, Bob Kackley, Lawrence Wilson, Dinny Dimes and Trebor Rellim — which was his name spelled backwards.

"After Twenty-One Years"

Gene Autry1934 

"Answer to Twenty-One Years"

Zora Layman1933 
Gene Autry1933 
Frankie Marvin1933 
Jimmy Long1933 
The Log Cabin Boys1934 

"Chime Bells"

(written with Elton Britt)

Elton Britt1934 
The Ozark Boys1941 
Elton Britt (remake)1948 #6 country
Rex Allen1948 
Rosalie Allen1948 
Carolina Cotton1948 
Warner Mack1962 
Slim Whitman1963 
Jean Shepard1995 
Don Walser1995 
Wylie & the Wild West1998 
Riders in the Sky2006 

"Conversation with a Mule"

Arty Hall1937 

"Driftwood on the River"

(written with John Klenner)

Elton Britt1939 
Ernest Tubb1951 #7 country
Rex Allen & The Arizona Wranglers1946  
Wilf Carter (as Montana Slim)1952  
Ray Price1958  
Mac Wiseman1959  
Don Gibson1961  
George Hamilton IV1965  
Grandpa Jones1978  
Mac Wiseman & Chubby Wise1982  
The Osborne Brothers1995  

"Eleven Cent Cotton, Forty Cent Meat"

(written with Emma Dermer)

Bob Miller1928 
Vernon Dalhart1928 
Carson Robison1929 

"I Betcha My Heart I Love You"

(written with Esther Van Sciver)

The Carter Sisters1949 
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys1950 
Carl Smith1950 
Wanda Jackson1968 
Laura Lee McBride1984 

"In the Blue Hills of Virginia"

(written with Lou Klein)

Frank Luther1932 
Delmore Brothers1940 

"New Twenty-One Years"

Bob Miller1932 
Frank Luther1932 
Dick Robertson1932 

"Poor Forgotten Man"

Bob Miller1932 

"Rocking Alone in an Old Rocking Chair"

Bob Miller1932 
The Frank Luther Trio1932 
The Maple City Four1933 
Blue Ridge Mountain Girls1933 
Tex Owens1934 
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys1936 
Eddy Arnold1952 
Ferlin Husky1956 
The Everly Brothers1958 
Billy Walker1961 
Dean Martin1963 
Hank Snow1964 
Lulu Belle & Scotty1967 
Mac Wiseman2005 

"Seven Beers with the Wrong Woman"

Karl & Harty1940 
Texas Jim Lewis1940 
Tommy Tucker1940 #23 pop

"Seven Years with the Wrong Man"

Zora Layman1933 

"Seven Years with the Wrong Woman"

Cliff Carlisle1932 
Frank Luther1932 
Mac & Bob1933 
Ray Noble Orchestra1934 
The Shelton Brothers1937 
Eddy Arnold1952 

"The Death of Huey P. Long"

Hank Warner1935 

"The Last of the Twenty-One Year Prisoner"

Frank Luther1934 

"There's a Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere"

(written with Paul Roberts)

Elton Britt1942 #7 pop
Arthur Fields1942 
Jimmy Wakely1942 #14 pop
The Louvin Brothers1963 
Pat Boone1963 
Hank Snow1964 
Dave Dudley1966 
Wynn Stewart1968 
Ned Miller1970 
Ray Stevens1971 
Ray Price1991 
Boxcar Willie1994 
The Osborne Brothers1998 
The Country Gentlemen2004 
Mac Wiseman2009 

"There's a Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere #2 - The Ballad of Francis Powers"

(written with Paul Roberts, David McEnery)

Red River Dave1960  
Tommy Dee1960  

"Twenty-One Years"

Bob Miller1929 
Mac & Bob1930 
Riley Puckett1931 
Dick Robertson1931 
Karl & Harty1931 
Doc Hopkins1932 
Marc Williams1934 
Marty Robbins1956 
Tennessee Ernie Ford1959 
The Gibson Brothers2006 

"We're Going to Have to Slap the Dirty Little Jap"

Carson Robison1942 
Lucky Millinder Orchestra1942 
Denver Darling1942 

"When the White Azaleas Start Blooming"

Frank Luther1932 
Bob Miller1933 
Louise Massey & the Westerners1934 
The Swift Jewel Cowboys1939 
Wilf Carter1940 
Bing Crosby1942 #21 pop

Bob Miller

Induction Year: 1970