SINCE 1997

Lucky Millinder

(born Lucius Millinder, August 8, 1900, Anniston, Ala.; died September 28, 1966, New York, N.Y.)

In the 1940s, the Lucky Millinder Orchestra provided a vital link between big band swing and rhythm & blues. Although Millinder didn't play an instrument and reputedly couldn't even read music, he nonetheless played a crucial role in the early development of jump blues.

Miilinder was born in Alabama but Raised in Chicago. He got his start in music as a emcee. In 1934 Millinder took over the directorship of the Mills Blue Rhythm Band, one of the early black swing bands in the 1930s. Millender worked with Bill Doggett's band in 1938 after the Blue Rhythm Band dissolved, and then formed the Lucky Millinder Orchestra in 1940. The Orchestra became one of the most rhythmically exciting bands on the swing circuit.

The Millinder band was especially popular in Harlem as it gradually shifted away from swing and more toward early rhythm & blues. Among the orchestra's many noted members were Dizzy Gillespie and Bull Moose Jackson. Millinder eventually secured a recording contract with Decca; from 1942 to 1945 the orchestra landed four records at the top of the charts. One of the hits, "When The Lights Go On Again (All Over The World)" featured Gillespie on trumpet.

Along with other black bands such as those led by Cab Calloway and Count Basie, The Millinder band paved the way for the R&B Boom of the late 1940s.

Robert Santelli - The Big Book of Blues



By Carl P. McConnell

Mabel McConnell talks about the Carter Family, Doc & Carl,
The Original Virginia Boys and the early days of radio.