Glenn Miller and his Orchestra is fondly remembered
as not only one of the best of the big bands of the
swing era, but most popular and best-loved bands of
World War II. Formed in March 1938, the (second) Glenn
Miller Orchestra was famous for several hits, including
"In the Mood," and "Pennsylvania 65000."
Their "Moonlight Serenade" radio series
for Chesterfield cigarettes was on CBS three times
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In 1941, it was off to Hollywood where the band worked
on its first movie, "Sun Valley Serenade",
which "Chattanooga Choo Choo." The war had
begun, draft notices were being sent out, and Uncle
Sam didn't mind taking musicians along with the rest
of America's young men and women.
On October 7, 1942 Miller reported for, and was assigned
to the Army Specialist, allowing him to work on an
army band to boost morale. The result was the Glenn
Miller Army Air Force Band. It took a while to get
the band on the road, but in late 1943 they were shipped
out to England. In England less than a year, the Glenn
Miller Army Air Force Band did over 800 performances
- 500 were broadcasts heard by millions! There were
more than 300 personal appearances including concerts
and dances, with a gross attendance of over 600,000.
In the Autumn of 1944, the band was scheduled to
be sent on a six-week tour of Europe and would be
stationed in Paris during that time. Miller decided
to go ahead, in order to make arrangements for the
group's arrival. On December 15th, Glenn Miller boarded
a transport plane to Paris, never to be seen again.
At first shattered by the news, the Band determinedly
carried on in Miller's memory for the remainder of
the war. Those who danced to it then will always remember
Glenn's music, and enjoyed by those who listen to
it today, as it is a perfect reflection of the spirit
and dedication of America in the Second World War era.
For more WWII listening, the World
War II Collection, Command
Performance, and An
American in England are great listening. See also: Band of the AAF Training Command, The Chestfield Show (Moonlight Serenade).