Tuesday, December 15, 2015

#CollisionWithFame: Glenn Miller, December 15, 1944

Glenn Miller was the greatest and most innovative arranger and composer of the Swing Era, inventing the popular “big band” and popularizing such enduring standards as “Pennsylvania 6-500,” “Moonlight Serenade,” and “In the Mood,”  among his many hits.  Miller also was awarded the first-ever “Gold Record” for outstanding sales, from RCA for the 1942 hit “Chattanooga Choo-Choo.”    Glenn Miller was lost while flying over the English Channel to join up with his Army Air Force Band in Paris, to perform for troops stationed in the recently liberated city. The plane he was traveling in was UC-64A Noorduyn Norseman, a bush plane usually equipped with floats, designed to take off and land on unimproved surfaces.  After leaving the RAF base at Twinwood Farm in Bedfordshire, the plane disappeared over the English Channel.  Rumors persist as to the source of his demise, but a popular theory holds that returning British night bombers, following the convention of emptying their bomb bays over the Channel on the return flight from Germany, dropped their bombs on his plane.  Miller, his pilot and the aircraft were never recovered. Noted actor and World War II bomber pilot Jimmy Stewart portrayed Miller in the semibiographical film The Glenn Miller Story.