The Mills Brothers

April 14, 2016

The Mills Brothers appeared in Gary's film Operator 13 (1934) and after seeing them in the movie, I became a fan. They were amazing! Most of us will hum along to a song and make a sound like an instrument but these guys could actually do it and make it sound like the instrument. They didn't need trumpets or bass fiddles, they could just use their mouths, hands, and one guitar.

 

John, Herbert, Harry, and Donald Mills - The Mills Brothers

 

 

"The Mills Brothers were sponsored by the largest advertisers in early radio; Standard Oil, Procter & Gamble, Crisco, and Crosley Radio. They began appearing in films. Their first, The Big Broadcast (Paramount, 1932) was an all star radio revue that included Bing Crosby, Cab Calloway, and the Boswell Sisters. In 1934, the Brothers stared with Crosby for Woodbury Soap, and recorded their classics "Lazy Bones," " Sweet Sue," "Lulu's back in town," "Bye-Bye Blackbird," "Sleepy Head," and "Shoe Shine Boy." Film appearances included Twenty Million Sweethearts for Warner Brothers in 1934, and Broadway Gondolier, also for Warner Brothers in 1935."

 

"The brothers were highly successful and well liked. They were recognized nationally, then internationally. In 1934, The Mills Brothers became the first African-Americans to give a command performance before British royalty. They performed at the Regal Theatre for a special audience; King George V, Queen Mary, and the very special woman sitting in a box seat, their mother. Soon after this, while performing in England, John Jr. became ill. He was months recovering from pneumonia. Before he was completely well, the Brothers returned to England. John Jr. once again became sick, then died in the beginning of 1936."

 

"This was a bad period for the remaining brothers. They were contemplating breaking up, when their mother told them John Jr. would want them to continue. They followed her suggestion and their father, John Sr., as the baritone and tuba, replaced the deceased Brother, John Jr. At this time, Norman Brown joined the Brothers as their guitar player." -  http://www.singers.com/group/Mills-Brothers/

 

 

I have several of their albums on vinyl and you can also find their music on streaming services such as Rhapsody and ITunes.

 

Here are a few videos to give you a taste of this very talented family.

 

"Jungle Fever" from Operator 13 (1934)

 

 

"Old Man of the Mountain" - 1933

 

 

"Lazy River"

 

 

"How'm I Doing, hey, hey" - 1934

 

 

 

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