Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This week, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman looks at the life of Roger Miller, the King of the Road.
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And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KERA radio’s 90.1 at Night.
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This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll look at an accomplished songwriter who is probably best remembered for his more humorous compositions.
Roger Miller died on Oct. 25, 1992, but he left behind an unparalleled legacy as an award-winning songwriter. Miller was born in Fort Worth on Jan. 2, 1936. By the early 1960s, he was living in Nashville, where he backed such popular singers as Ray Price and Minnie Pearl. Miller also began attracting attention as a serious songwriter, penning such honky tonk classics as “Invitation to the Blues” and “When Two Worlds Collide.” He gained international fame during the mid-1960s for a string of humorous novelty songs, including “Chug-a-Lug,” “Dang Me” and “You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd.” His single biggest hit came in 1965 with “King of the Road,” a light-hearted tale about a restless but resourceful hobo. Roger Miller won 11 Grammys for his songwriting, along with five Tony Awards for the musical score to Big River, a hit Broadway play based on Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn.
Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll celebrate a woman who wrote the state’s first known English-language song.