Mark Miller: ‘We Were the Original American Idols’

by Kayla Zadel

Mark Miller of Sawyer Brown is making an interesting proclamation. And who are we kidding, we can’t disagree with him.

In this episode of “The Road You Leave Behind with Marry Smith,” the Sawyer Brown frontman joins Outsider contributor Marty Smith to chat. One topic that comes up is how Mark Miller and Sawyer Brown were discovered.

“We were the original American Idols,” Miller laughingly tells Smith in the video. Miller and his fellow bandmates appeared on the talent competition, “Star Search” in the fall of 1983.

The podcast host goes onto say, “So those of you who may not know what ‘Star Search’ is unless you’re 35 or older, you may have no idea. It was a talent show hosted by Ed McMahon and it was wildly popular when I was a kid.”

As a matter of fact, Miller goes onto say again, “We tease everybody that we were the original American Idols.” Smith agrees with the singer-songwriter that this was the original singing competition show.

Mark Miller Details Show Auditions

The Sawyer Brown singer thought that he was just going to be filmed for a video tape. Little did Miller know that he and the band would be auditioning for the talent show, “Star Search.”

“Rick [Ship],” an intern at the time but went on to be an agent for William Morris continues Miller, “called and said there’s an outfit coming to town and they’ll videotape you guys and they’ll let you have the video tape to send out to California.”

Miller thought it was a great idea and the band showed up the next day at the studio. When they get there, they see “Star Search” signs. The show hadn’t aired yet, so nobody really knew what it was. Moreover, Miller was focused on getting the tape but learned that “Star Search” was actually a TV show.

The show’s producers were looking for more talent to feature on the show. But Miller “just wanted that tape.” He and the band agreed to perform two songs. Then Miller gets a call on Monday and he’s thinking it’s about the videotape.

“I get a call from Rick Ship and Rick said, ‘Hey the ‘Star Search’ people are going to call you.’ He says, ‘They wouldn’t tell me what’s going on because I’m officially not your agent,'” Miller says and he and Smith start laughing.

Sawyer Brown Goes to Los Angeles

Mark Miller gets the call from the producers and he tells them that they made the show and they want them on the next episode. Meaning Sawyer Brown had to get on an airplane the next day to be on “Star Search.” Miller says that he told the producers that they didn’t have the money for a flight, hotel, or food. The people from the singing competition said not to worry about money. They were going to take care of everything.

Miller and the band ended up being in LA for six months. As history would have it, Mark Miller and Sawyer Brown won the talent show. Moreover, as part of the show’s grand prize, they signed to Capitol Records in 1984.

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