Roger Miller was one of the most influential and versatile country singers of all time. He was known for his witty and humorous songs, such as “King of the Road”, “Dang Me”, and “England Swings”. He also wrote and performed songs for the Disney animated film Robin Hood, and composed the music and lyrics for the Broadway musical Big River. He won 11 Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. But how did Roger Miller die? What was the cause of his death? Here is what we know.
Early Life and Career
Roger Miller was born on January 2, 1936, in Fort Worth, Texas. His mother died when he was a year old, and he was sent to live with his uncle on a farm in Oklahoma. He learned to play guitar and fiddle from his cousin’s husband, Sheb Wooley, who later became a famous actor and singer. He also listened to the Grand Ole Opry and was inspired by Hank Williams and Bob Wills.
Miller joined the U.S. Army in 1954 and served in Korea. After his discharge, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he worked as a songwriter for other artists. He wrote hits such as “Billy Bayou” and “Home” for Jim Reeves, and “Invitation to the Blues” for Ray Price. He also recorded some songs himself, but did not achieve much success until the early 1960s.
The Peak of His Fame
In 1964, Miller signed with Smash Records, a subsidiary of Mercury Records, where he had more creative freedom. He started to record his own novelty songs, which showcased his clever wordplay and humor. His first major hit was “Dang Me”, which reached number one on the country charts and number seven on the pop charts. He followed it with another number one country hit, “Chug-a-Lug”.
The same year, he released his most famous song, “King of the Road”, which became a crossover hit and an international sensation. The song won five Grammy Awards, including Best Country Song and Best Contemporary Rock ‘n’ Roll Single. It also earned Miller a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for receiving the most BMI awards for one song.
Miller continued to produce hit after hit, such as “Engine Engine #9”, “England Swings”, “Husbands and Wives”, and “You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd”. He also appeared on television shows, such as The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Muppet Show, and Hee Haw. He also starred in some movies, such as Waterhole #3 and Lucky Luke.
Later Years and Legacy
In the 1970s, Miller’s popularity declined as country music changed and became more serious and sophisticated. He still recorded some albums, but they did not sell well. He also faced some personal problems, such as alcoholism and divorce. He married his third wife, Mary Arnold, in 1977, who helped him overcome his addiction.
In 1982, Miller had a comeback when he recorded a duet with Willie Nelson called “Old Friends”, which reached number 19 on the country charts. He also collaborated with Ray Price on an album called San Antonio Rose.
In 1985, Miller wrote the music and lyrics for a musical based on Mark Twain’s novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The musical, titled Big River, was a huge success on Broadway and won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score. Miller also played the role of Pap Finn in some performances.
Miller’s songs have been covered by many artists over the years, such as Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Randy Travis, Dwight Yoakam, Reba McEntire, George Strait, Brad Paisley, and more.
Roger Miller Cause of Death: Lung Cancer
In early 1992, Miller announced that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer after a tumor was found below his vocal cords. He underwent radiation treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He also continued to perform occasionally until his condition worsened.
On October 25, 1992, Roger Miller died at Century City Hospital in Los Angeles at the age of 56. According to Wikipedia, a memorial service was held for him at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on November 4. His ashes were scattered over his ranch in Santa Fe County, New Mexico.
Miller’s death was mourned by many fans and fellow musicians who admired his talent and personality. According to The Celebrity Deaths, he once said that he did not want to be forgotten: “I just don’t want to be forgotten.”
Roger Miller will always be remembered as one of the greatest country singers of all time. His songs will live on as classics that bring joy and laughter to generations of listeners. He was truly the King of the Road.