A week or so ago I promised my good friend, Arnold, that I would write about Roger Miller. But I managed to get sidetracked. Sorry for the delay, bud.
"King of the Road", "Dang Me" and "England Swings", all from the mid-1960s Nashville sound era.
After growing up in Oklahoma and serving in the United States Army, Miller began his musical career as a songwriter in the late 1950s, penning such hits as "Billy Bayou" and "Home" for Jim Reeves and "Invitation to the Blues" for Ray Price. He later began a recording career and reached the peak of his fame in the mid-1960s, continuing to record and tour into the 1990s, charting his final top 20 country hit "Old Friends" with Willie Nelson in 1982. Later in his life, he wrote the music and lyrics for the 1985 Tony-award winning Broadway musical Big River, in which he acted.
"Tall, Tall Trees" by Alan Jackson and "Husbands and Wives" by Brooks & Dunn, each reaching the number one spot on country charts in the 1990s. The Roger Miller Museum in his home town is a tribute to Miller.
Many of us are familiar with "King of the Road" and "Dang Me", but one of my favorites that as kids we'd sing along and dance around the house to was "You Can't Rollerskate in a Buffalo Herd"
Here's a fun fact: The song "Me and Bobby McGee", which was widely popularized by Janis Joplin, was written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster, and originally performed by Roger Miller. In the original version of the song, Bobby is a woman. Joplin, who was allegedly a lover (but also a good friend and mentor) of Kristofferson's from the beginning of her career to her death, changed the sex and a few of the lyrics in her cover. Kristofferson stated he did not write this song for her, but the song is associated with her, especially in the line "Somewhere near Salinas, Lord, I let her slip away."
Roger Miller wasn't all about novelty songs. "River in the Rain" was one of 22 songs that he wrote for the Broadway Musical "Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" The musical was based on Mark Twain's classic 1884 novel "Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn".