ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Life and Times of the Mills Brothers

Updated on June 4, 2013

The Mills Brothers

In the year nineteen eighty-eight The Mills Brothers were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of fame. The Mills Brothers were a pop and jazz quartet in the USA for the Twentieth Century who sold a combined fifty million copies or more and made over two thousand recordings and garnering gold records at least thirty six.

50th Anniversary

In the year nineteen seventy-six it was their 50th anniversary in show biz and this was commemorated with a tribute that Bing Crosby hosted at LA’s Dorothy Chandler Pavillion. Due to diabetes, Harry at this point was almost blind. Until the death of Harry in ’82, Harry, Herbert and Donald had performed continuously and Donald and Herbert continued to sing until Herbert met his demise in ’89. A Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award was presented to the sole survivor Donald in ’98, recognizing the family of the Mills pop music contributions. When Donald died, John III started touring under The Mills Brothers name with Elmer Hopper.

Four Brothers

They founded a barbershop quartet as their father owned a barber shop and The Four Kings of Harmony was the name of the quartet. Originally the group was made up of 4 brothers born in the Ohio town of Piqua including guitarist and bass vocalist John Jr, the tenor Herbert, the baritone Harry and the lead tenor Donald and Eathel Mills and John Hutchinson were their parents.

Early Choir Singers

After taking lessons at the grammar school in Spring Street, they gathered in front of the barbershop of their dad and play the kazoo while singing to passersby. As they grew up the boys started singing in Piqua’s Park Avenue Baptist Church as well as the church choir of Piqua as well.

Signature Sound

For their close harmonies they became well known in the area and also rose in popularity for scat singing and the way they did musical imitations. Their signature sound was developed when Harry misplaced his kazoo when they entered a Piqua May Opera House amateur contest and covered his mouth as he did a trumpet imitation. His imitation success resulted in all the boys imitating instruments creating their unique sound. Bassist john imitated tubas, baritone Harry did the trumpet, with Donald on trombone and Herbert on the 2nd trumpet. This harmony was accompanied by a guitar or a ukulele by John Jr. They did this for entertainment in supper clubs, music halls, tent shows and house parties.


In the year nineteen twenty eight they auditioned for the WLW radio station in Cincinnati and rapidly turned out to be local stars on the radio, getting their big break when in Cincinnati, Duke Ellington and his Orchestra did a show. When they sang for Ellington, he called Okeh Records’ Tommy Rockwell who brought them to NYC after signing them. When CBS Radio executive of broadcasting William S Paley heard them sing he signed a contract of three years with them and they became the first Afro-American singers to achieve a radio network show. Later, in nineteen thirty-four they became the first African American giving a performance on command before the royalty of Britain.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      hey sgpuppies Im zilobenle kleinhans im 15 jears old and i like to be part of your resque welfair of dogs !!!! i am a huge fan for animals . i love any animal from a dog to a shark! i will help were i can ! im planning to give the halfe of my sallary to many spca' s as i can!!! my live long dream is to help all the animals on the streets and all over the world when im 18 yers old im going to begin my own huge petshop of my own . thanks and enjoy the rest of your evning !!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)