Elva Ruby Miller (October 5, 1907 – July 5, 1997), who recorded under the name "Mrs. Miller", was an American singer who gained some fame in the 1960s for her series of shrill and off-key renditions of popular songs such as "Moon River", "Monday, Monday", "A Lover's Concerto", and "Downtown". Singing in an untrained, Mermanesque, vibrato-laden style, according to Irving Wallace, David Wallechinsky and Amy Wallace in The Book of Lists 2, Miller's voice was compared to the sound of "roaches scurrying across a trash can lid."
Nevertheless, "Downtown" reached the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in April 1966, peaking at No. 82. The single's B-side, "A Lover's Concerto," barely cracked the Hot 100 that same month at No. 95.
(Read more at Wikipedia.)
Links to Peel
Mrs Miller was renowned for her awful singing, yet had a number of US chart hits in the mid-1960s, when Peel was working in American radio. Back in the UK, the DJ would continue to feature her “unmistakable vocal styiings” on an occasional basis down the decades, offering listeners an abrupt change in pace from his regular fare.
Author David Cavanagh holds up Peel's programming of the “tone-deaf novelty singer” on 26 May 1991 as an example of the DJ close to his eclectic best, displaying “a form of erudite, neo-anarchic, abstract expressionist fearlessness that no other person on British music radio before or since could have begun to imagine how to emulate”, with a run of playlist choices that also included the Wedding Present, Humblebums, a dancehall cover of Carly Simon, accordionist Jimmy Shand and 11 noisecore tracks that lasted a total of 15 seconds.
Festive Fifty Entries
- 07 March 1974: A Lover's Concerto (LP - Mrs. Miller's Greatest Hits) Capitol
- 02 September 1985: Monday, Monday (LP - Will Success Spoil Mrs. Miller?) Capitol (JP: “The very wonderful Mrs Miller, for the Red Rhino people.”)
- 10 September 1985: Strangers In The Night (LP - Will Success Spoil Mrs. Elva Miller?) Capitol
- 30 September 1985: Moon River (album - Will Success Spoil Mrs. Miller?) Capitol
- 03 March 1986: The Shadow Of Your Smile (unknown release) (JP: “the unmistakable vocal stylings of Mrs Miller”)
- 26 May 1991: Chim Chim Cherie (LP - Mrs Millers Greatest Hits) Capitol