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IRVING MILLS

Music Publisher, Orchestra Leader, Booking Agent, Recording Company Owner, Lyricist, Vocalist

Irving Mills , the son of immigrant parents, rose to entrepreneurial heights in various aspects of the music business despite minimal formal education. He had an instinct for assessing both music and musicians, honed during his youth working in New York restaurants that featured the latest songs and best performers. Although not a musician, he had a good singing voice and hired on as a song-plugger.

He established a music publishing business in 1919 and signed many then unknowns like Hoagy Carmichael and Dorothy Fields. Mills also created orchestras from the best players of the time to record his material. He formed a booking agency and ran a recording company for all of his bands, even opening the Hotsy Totsy Club in New York named for one of them. His first success as a lyricist was his collaboration with Jimmy McHugh and Gene Austin on “When My Sugar Walks Down the Street” (1924).

Mills was instrumental in forging the early careers of Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway, who opened at the Cotton Club with a song that he and Mills wrote with Clarence Gaskill, “Minnie the Moocher” (1931). Mills recorded Cab who became an international success with his “Hi-De-Ho” signature phrase.

From 1926 to 1939 Mills managed the Duke Ellington Orchestra, sang on some of their recordings, and wrote lyrics to several songs: “Mood Indigo” (1931), “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing” (1932), “Sophisticated Lady” (1933), “Solitude” (1935), and “Caravan” (1937). In 1943 he produced the film Stormy Weather but returned to the business of discovering and promoting artists and music.

The extent to which Mills contributed to the lyrics and music of Ellington’s compositions is a hot topic and is discussed in most Ellington biographies. Some Ellington musicians have been quoted as saying Mills contributed virtually nothing to many of the over fifty songs for which he took credit as well as royalties. Although the practice was common among publishers and promoters of that time, it was still considered unethical. Mills’ view was that he deserved credit even if only for his suggestions during the development process. Interestingly Ellington sided with Mills, agreeing with his views in principal or out of indebtedness for his long and energetic promotion of the Ellington orchestra.

-- Sandra Burlingame

Courtesy of JazzStandards.com

View by Role: Non-Classical Artist | Non-Classical Composer | Lyricist
Role: Non-Classical Artist 
Album Title  Catalogue No  Work Category 

Role: Non-Classical Composer 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
ARMSTRONG, Louis: Rhythm Saved The World (1934-1936) (Louis Armstrong, Vol. 3) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120676
Jazz
ARMSTRONG, Louis: Stop Playing Those Blues (1946-1947) (Louis Armstrong, Vol. 7) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120817
Jazz
BECHET, Sidney: Shake It And Break It (1938-1941) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120699
Jazz
DORSEY BROTHERS: Stop, Look And Listen (1932-1935) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120762
Jazz
ELLINGTON, Duke: Black, Brown and Beige (1943-1945) (Duke Ellington, Vol. 9) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120809
Jazz
ELLINGTON, Duke: Blue Abandon (1946) (Duke Ellington, Vol. 12) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120812
Jazz
ELLINGTON, Duke: Cotton Club Stomp (1927-1931) (Duke Ellington, Vol. 1) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120509
Jazz
ELLINGTON, Duke: Echoes of Harlem (1936-1938) (Duke Ellington, Vol. 4) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120682
Jazz
ELLINGTON, Duke: It Don't Mean a Thing (1930-1934) (Duke Ellington, Vol. 2) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120526
Jazz
ELLINGTON, Duke: Jam-A-Ditty (1946-1947) (Duke Ellington, Vol. 13) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120813
Jazz
ELLINGTON, Duke: Jump For Joy (1941-1942) (Duke Ellington, Vol. 8) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120743
Jazz
ELLINGTON, Duke: Reminiscing in Tempo (1932-1935) (Duke Ellington, Vol. 3) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120589
Jazz
FITZGERALD, Ella: A-Tisket, A-Tasket (1936-1941) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120540
Jazz
FITZGERALD, Ella: Lullaby Of Birdland (1947-1954) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120774
Jazz
GARNER, Erroll: Yesterdays (1944-1949) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120528
Jazz
GOODMAN, Benny: Bumblebee Stomp (1937-1939) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120677
Jazz
GOODMAN, Benny: Sing, Sing, Sing (1937-1940) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120768
Jazz
HENDERSON, Fletcher: Blue Rhythm (1931-1933) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120672
Jazz
HISTORY OF ROCK AND ROLL, VOL. 5: 1956 Pop, Part 1 Naxos Rock Legends
9.82510
Pop and Rock
HITS OF THE 1930s, Vol. 2 (1931-1933) Naxos Nostalgia
8.120842
Nostalgia
HOLIDAY, Billie: You're My Thrill (1944-1949) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120750
Jazz
JAZZ FOR YOU - CHILL WITH ELLINGTON (1932-1951) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120894
Jazz
JAZZ FOR YOU - CHILL WITH FITZGERALD (1936-1952) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120893
Jazz
JAZZ LEGENDS - Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Glenn Miller Naxos Jazz Legends
8.102002
Jazz
Jazzin Legeanat - 60 kaikkien aikojen klassikkoa Naxos Jazz Legends
8.103014
Jazz
KAYE, Danny: Danny Kaye! (1941-1952) Naxos Nostalgia
8.120775
Nostalgia
KING COLE TRIO: Transcriptions, Vol. 2 (1939) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120521
Jazz
MILLS BROTHERS: Swing Is The Thing (1934-1938) Naxos Nostalgia
8.120680
Nostalgia
MODERN JAZZ QUARTET: 35th Anniversary Tour (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
107033
Jazz DVD
ORY, Kid: Ory's Creole Trombone (1945-1953) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120769
Jazz
TEAGARDEN, Jack: It's Time for T (1929-1953) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120825
Jazz
TEAGARDEN, Jack: Texas Tea Party (1933-1950) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120585
Jazz
ULTIMATE VOCAL COLLECTION (THE) Naxos Nostalgia
8.120863-64
Nostalgia
UNITED STATES AIR FORCE AIRMEN OF NOTE: Somewhere Out There Altissimo
75442261212
Contemporary Jazz
UNITED STATES AIR FORCE BAND (THE AMBASSADORS): After Hours Altissimo
75442262482
Contemporary Jazz
UNITED STATES ARMY FIELD BAND JAZZ AMBASSADORS: Legacy of Benny Carter (The) Altissimo
75442260682
Contemporary Jazz
UNITED STATES CONTINENTAL ARMY BAND: New Frontiers Altissimo
75442262282
Wind Ensemble/Band Music

Role: Lyricist 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
ADLER, Larry: The Great Larry Adler (1934-1947) Naxos Nostalgia
8.120608
Nostalgia
ANDREWS SISTERS: Hit the Road (1938-1944) Naxos Nostalgia
8.120550
Nostalgia
BAND OF THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE RESERVE JAZZ ENSEMBLE: Straighten Up and Fly Right Altissimo
75442270052
Contemporary Jazz
CAPRICER MED OD, Vol. 2 (1970-1975) BIS
BIS-NL-CD-5016
Choral - Secular
DORSEY BROTHERS: Stop, Look And Listen (1932-1935) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120762
Jazz
ELLINGTON, Duke: Tootin' Through the Roof (1939-1940) (Duke Ellington, Vol. 6) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120729
Jazz
FITZGERALD, Ella: A-Tisket, A-Tasket (1936-1941) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120540
Jazz
FITZGERALD, Ella: It's the Way That You Do It (1936-1939) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120611
Jazz
FITZGERALD, Ella: Live in '57 and '63 (NTSC) TDKDVD
DVWW-JIEF
Jazz DVD
FITZGERALD, Ella: Lullaby Of Birdland (1947-1954) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120774
Jazz
GOODMAN, Benny: Bumblebee Stomp (1937-1939) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120677
Jazz
HITS OF THE 1930s, Vol. 2 (1931-1933) Naxos Nostalgia
8.120842
Nostalgia
JAZZ FOR YOU - CHILL WITH ELLINGTON (1932-1951) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120894
Jazz
JAZZ FOR YOU - CHILL WITH FITZGERALD (1936-1952) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120893
Jazz
KAYE, Danny: Danny Kaye! (1941-1952) Naxos Nostalgia
8.120775
Nostalgia
MILLS BROTHERS: Swing Is The Thing (1934-1938) Naxos Nostalgia
8.120680
Nostalgia
REINHARDT, Django: Swing Guitars (1936-1937) (Reinhardt, Vol. 3) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120686
Jazz
UNITED STATES AIR FORCE AIRMEN OF NOTE: Legacy Altissimo
75442260672
Contemporary Jazz
UNITED STATES AIR FORCE BAND OF THE ROCKIES: Ev'rytime We Say Goodbye Altissimo
75442260102
Contemporary Jazz
UNITED STATES ARMY FIELD BAND AND SOLDIER'S CHORUS: Musical Ambassadors of the Army Altissimo
75442261152
Choral - Secular





 
 
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1:57:53 PM, 26 July 2014
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