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Record Producer, TV Host Mitch Miller Dies at 99


One of the most influential figures in American popular music has died. Mitch Miller was 99 years old.

Miller's family announced that he died Saturday in a New York City hospital after a short illness. He was a musician, singer, conductor, record producer and television show host.

To many people, he also is considered to have inspired modern-day karaoke.

Mitch Miller began his musical career as an accomplished oboe and English horn player. While still a young man, he recorded some highly regarded classical record albums.

In the pre-rock 'n' roll era of the 1940s and 50s, Mitch Miller was an executive at Columbia Records. He produced hits for popular singers Tony Bennett, Patti Page, Rosemary Clooney and Johnny Mathis, among others.

Miller and a chorus of singers had a number one hit of their own in 1955 with the song "The Yellow Rose of Texas." That led to the sing-along records for which he would become famous, and would inspire today's karaoke.

In 1961, the NBC television network signed Miller to do a show called "Sing Along With Mitch," a musical variety program that would make his a household name. The show was a huge ratings success, and featured Miller conducting a male chorale performing various musical standards. At home, the television audience could follow along as a bouncing ball superimposed on their TV screen highlighted each word of the song. The show lasted until 1964.

Miller's career took a downturn as rock music soared in popularity. But he would carry on his sing-along tradition, making personal appearances and leading crowds in song. He also appeared frequently as a guest conductor for many top American orchestras.

In 2000, Mitch Miller won a special Grammy award for lifetime achievement.

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