Glenn Miller

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Alton Glenn Miller (1904-1944) was an American Big Band leader and trombonist who achieved celebrity in the 1930s and early 40s and died when the military aircraft on which he was travelling disappeared on 15 December 1944.

Miller was born in Iowa but his family moved around the Mid-West and he was living in Missouri when he obtained his first trombone and became interested in dance music while at high school and then college in Colorado. He abandoned college to become a professional musician, touring with several bands, and working as a freelance trombonist and session musician, before forming his first band in 1937. A reformed band concentrated on a tight harmonic sound of clarinets and saxophones, and had major hits such as "Tuxedo Junction" and "Chattanooga Choo Choo".

Although over-age for conscription, Miller volunteered for military service in 1942. Rejected by the navy, he joined the army as a musician and formed the Army Air Force Orchestra, whose arrangements, such as the St Louis Blues March, raised eyebrows amongst military music purists. On 15 December 1944 Miller, by now a major, was due to fly to Paris to play for US troops in the liberated city. His aircraft never arrived, and the exact circumstances of his death have never been established.