On This Day: Late-Musician Roger Miller Was Born in 1936, Relive His Stellar Career

by Madison Miller

The legendary honky-tonk musician and actor, Roger Miller, was born on Jan.2, 1936.

The singer-songwriter passed away from lung cancer in 1992. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame a few years later.

What did the singer/actor’s career spanning through the ’60s look like?

Singer/Songwriter Career

Roger Miller is well-known for mixing genres into one cohesive sound. While he is usually grouped into the country genre, his sound was a balance of jazz, blues, and pop.

Miller really started his career in 1957. He met the executive at Mercury Records, Don Pierce, where he was signed and given three songs to record.

His song, “Poor Little John” flopped, so he continued to work at a hotel while playing fiddle and drums for musicians like Minnie Pearl and Faron Young. While his performing career had a rough start, as a songwriter he was in hot demand.

His song “Invitation to the Blues” was recorded by Ray Price, “That’s the Way I Feel” was recorded by Faron Young, and “Half a Mind” was recorded by Ernest Tubb.

His two songs with RCA Records, “You Don’t Want My Love” and “When Two Worlds Collide” both ranked on the charts.

Some of his most popular songs include, “Dang Me,” “Chug-a-Lug,” “Kansas City Star,” and “King of the Road.”

“King of the Road,” tells a story about a realistic life on the road. “Dang Me” is an ode to all the losers. “Chug-a-Lug” proves his more cheeky, honky-tonk side with a fast-paced tune about drinking.

He earned 11 Grammys during his career. Other artists continue to top the charts with covers of some of his greatest hits.

Roger Miller Appearing on the Screen

While Roger Miller was writing songs and making chart-toppers, he also had a career as an actor. The fun rooster from the “Robin Hood” film singing “Oo-de-Lally” was Miller’s sweet voice. He also had a reoccurring role as a guest on the “Muppet Show.”

Roger Miller came from a poor family during the Great Depression. He was an introverted child. Despite this, he craved attention. He would soon get attention with his blossoming career.

“What I’d do is sit around and get warm by crawling inside myself and make up stuff… I was one of those kids that never had much to say, and when I did, it was wrong. I always wanted attention, always was reaching and grabbing for attention,” Miller said, according to his official site.

Miller got an NBC program in 1966. On top of that he was also making appearances on the Andy Williams’ TV show. He had other people writing his material, which he did not particularly like. The show lasted for 13 weeks.

Besides his TV time, he also wrote a Broadway score for the adaptation of “Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” The play was a hit and earned Miller a Tony Award for Best Score.