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Bill Millar

Bill Millar


Bill Millar has been involved in music journalism since 1965 when Blues Unlimited published his first piece. He's into blues, rhythm'n'blues, rockabilly, swamp-pop, deep soul, down-the-line rock'n'roll and anything else that bops or doowops. The author of pioneering books on black vocal groups – The Drifters (Studio Vista, 1971) and The Coasters (W.H. Allen, 1975) – Bill was also Consultant Editor on Panther's Encyclopaedia of Rock (1976) and Orbis' History of Rock (1981). His acclaimed "Echoes" column, which profiled artists as diverse as Etta James, the Inkspots and Roy Buchanan, appeared in Record Mirror, Let It Rock and Melody Maker. He has also contributed to Cream, Country Music Review, Time Out, New Kommotion, Mojo and other publications.

Bill's liner notes have appeared on over a hundred albums, including most of the major-label rockabilly anthologies and numerous Bear Family box sets.

In 1996 he was awarded the MBE for services to a British Government department. Bill, who attended the same grammar school as writers Colin Escott and Martin Hawkins, lives in Dartford, Kent, with his wife Marlene and son Carl (named after Carl Perkins). His Let the Good Times Rock! A Fan's Notes on Post-War American Roots Music was published in 2004 by Music Mentor Books.

List of articles in the library by artist

Arthur Alexander

Sleevenotes by Bill Millar, Ace Records, 1984

DURING THE early '60s, Arthur Alexander wrote a famous clutch of compact, well-crafted country-soul songs. Stories of inconstant love and private gloom, they were covered ...

Johnnie Allan: A Swamp-Pop Special

Profile and Interview by Bill Millar, New Kommotion, 1978

I'VE A CONFESSION to make. I know nothing about rockabilly (you guessed huh?). All these years I've been into blues, soul doowop and swamp-pop, especially ...

Chuck Berry: Streatham Locarno, London

Live Review by Bill Millar, Soul Music Monthly, April 1967

I WOULD HAVE LIKED to have reviewed Chuck at the Savile Theatre, where initial audience reaction was such that his short-lived performance reached an all-time ...

Richard Berry: Echoes: Richard Berry

Retrospective by Bill Millar, Record Mirror, July 1972

"They took me to see that friend of mineyeah District court-room two-twenty-ninethe judge said 'your payments are way behind'I said 'Don't worry Daddy it won't ...

Booker T & The MGs, Carla Thomas, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave: Stax-Volt Review: Finsbury Park Astoria, London

Live Review by Bill Millar, Soul Music, April 1967

It was perfectly clear that every performer on the Stax show was going to receive the most sympathetic applause should he or she subsequently turn ...

Maxine Brown: The Ram Jam Club, London

Live Review by Bill Millar, Soul Music Monthly, December 1967

AFTER AN HOUR-LONG, musicianly performance of their own, the 'Q-Set', led by Miss Brown's own musical director, accompanied the artist we had all come to ...

Roy Buchanan: An Oldie but Goodie: Roy Buchanan

Retrospective and Interview by Bill Millar, Let It Rock, July 1973

FREAKS MAY BE trading in their Rory Gallagher albums for those by the new, laid-back, spaced out, country Clapton, but 'Echoes' readers know better – ...

Roy Buchanan

Sleevenotes by Bill Millar, Roller Coaster, 1999

Roy Buchanan may be remembered as little more than a guitar player who achieved minor British chart success with 'Sweet Dreams' (#40 in 1973) and, ...

Solomon Burke: The Marquee, London, 18th July 1966

Live Review by Bill Millar, Soul Music Monthly, February 1967

JUST OVER a year ago, Solomon Burke made his first appearance at the Marquee and was greeted with incredible scenes of enthusiasm. Before he had ...

Johnny and Dorsey Burnette: Johnny And Dorsey Burnette

Retrospective by Bill Millar, History of Rock, The, 1981

THE EARLY LIFELINES of Johnny and Dorsey Burnette are remarkable similar to Elvis Presley’s. They all grew up in a poor section of Memphis, ...

The Cadillacs: Speedo's Back In Town

Interview by Bill Millar, Record Mirror, February 1972

EARL CARROLL is still a rocker. The other Coasters wear Afros but Mr. Earl's hair is black, shiny and slickered back. Thumbing through a copy ...

The Coasters: Eleven Years of Coastin’: The Coasters

Discography by Bill Millar, Soul Music Monthly, February 1967

Several years ago The Coasters were internationally known and much has been written about them. Whilst I do not wish to regurgitate facts that are ...

The Coasters: Lecherous, Indolent, Stupid…and Comical: The Coasters

Retrospective by Bill Millar, Record Mirror, October 1971

THERE IS A passage in the Coasters' 'Sweet Georgia Brown' where the lead baritone flies off on the immortal line "she gotta walk that make ...

The Coasters: At Smokey Joe's Café

Retrospective by Bill Millar, History of Rock, The, 1982

The songwriters and producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller developed an unusually adventurous method of recording black singers, using material they often wrote themselves and ...

The Coasters: Whisky A Go Go, London

Live Review by Bill Millar, Soul Music Monthly, February 1967

Cornelius, Bobby and Nathaniel took the stand around 11 p.m. and those unacquainted with the team could be excused for thinking that they were about ...

Albert Collins, George Thorogood & The Destroyers: Thoroughly Bluesy George

Live Review by Bill Millar, Melody Maker, March 1979

George Thorogood, Albert Collins: Electric Ballroom, London ...

Mac Curtis: A History of Mac Curtis

Retrospective and Interview by Bill Millar, New Kommotion, 1978

ONE THING YOU should know straight away. It might look like it, but Mac Curtis, one of the better-known and best remembered rockabilly singers, ...

The Dominoes

Sleevenotes by Bill Millar, Charly Records, 1985

BILLY WARD'S DOMINOES, from whose personnel Clyde McPhatter and Jackie Wilson later emerged as star soloists, were the founding fathers of gospel-oriented doowop with a ...

The Drifters: Under The Boardwalk

Retrospective by Bill Millar, History of Rock, The, 1982

The Drifters are an institution. Very few vocal groups have remained popular for almost 30 years, and in an area notable for its lack of ...

Clyde McPhatter, The Drifters: Clyde McPhatter

Retrospective by Bill Millar, History of Rock, The, 1981

PERHAPS THE MOST INNOVATIVE OF ALL R&B singers, Clyde McPhatter brought a new and radical sound to popular music by singing with a spirit and ...

Freddy Fender: Back In San Antone

Profile by Bill Millar, Let It Rock, October 1975

DURING THE SEVENTEEN years he's been making records Freddy Fender has drawn standing room only crowds to club appearances, done time in Angola and scored ...

Freddy Fender, Ritchie Valens, Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, Sir Douglas Quintet: Chicano Rock

Special Feature by Bill Millar, Record Mirror, October 1971

ON 3 February 1959 Richard Valenzuela died in a plane crash along with Buddy Holly whose final recordings foretold the Beatless sixties; a more pop ...

Inez & Charlie Foxx: Inez And Charlie Foxx: The Flamingo, London

Live Review by Bill Millar, Soul Music Monthly, April 1967

On the two or three previous occasions Charlie and Inez have played the Flamingo, the club has been packed to capacity. On the 25th the ...

Shirley and Lee, Shirley Goodman: Shirley Goodman: Good Times Roll Again

Profile and Interview by Bill Millar, Let It Rock, July 1975

JET-BLACK RINGLETS and bra-busting cuddliness; nothing about Shirley Goodman tells you that she used to resemble the waif-like teenager on the front of those old ...

Charlie Gracie: Amazing Gracie

Retrospective and Interview by Bill Millar, New Kommotion, 1980

BY THE TIME I got into rock'n'roll, Charlie Gracie was already a folk memory dimly recalled from a performance on Stars From Blackpool and a ...

Charlie Gracie: Southern Sounds From A Northern City

Retrospective by Bill Millar, History of Rock, The, 1982

After 1958, the year of his second sell-out tour of the UK, Charlie Gracie faded quickly from the ranks of front-line rock'n'roll singers. But on ...

Dale Hawkins

Retrospective by Bill Millar, New Kommotion, 1977

HE DIDN'T LOOK like one of rock 'n' roll's crucial stars. Small, wiry, nervous even. The spotty face on the cover of his first album ...

Dale Hawkins: The Shreveport Tornado

Sleevenotes by Bill Millar, Ace Records, September 1998

Dale Hawkins may be short on the recognition that blesses other 50s rock'n’rollers but that’s a blessing of a kind. He’s still a legend with ...

Screamin' Jay Hawkins: I Put A Spell On You: Bill Millar pays tribute to the late, great Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

Retrospective by Bill Millar, unpublished, March 2000

"WHY NOT BE at London Airport to welcome Jay?" That was the invitation in the late Roger Eagle’s R & B Scene. And so, on ...

Screamin' Jay Hawkins: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (Philips)

Review by Bill Millar, Shout, June 1970

Please Don’t Leave Me; I Wanta Know; I Need You; My Marion; Bite It; Move Me/Goodnight My Love/Our Love Is Not For 3; Ain’t Nobody’s ...

Screamin' Jay Hawkins: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (French CBS)

Review by Bill Millar, Shout, March 1969

You Made Me Love You/ I Put A Spell On You /Alligator Wine /Little Demon/ There 's Something Wrong With You/Orange Coloured Sky/Yellow Coat/Take Me ...

Screamin' Jay Hawkins: That's Entertainment: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

Retrospective by Bill Millar, MOJO, May 1995

Psst. Hey, bud, you want "cryptic tales of mojo-bones, constipation, the Mau Mau, cunnilingus and flannel lipped, bald-headed women"? You got it! Ladeez and gennelmen, ...

Roy Head

Profile by Bill Millar, Soul, June 1966

The year 1965 saw the recognition of a young American performer who was soon to be hailed as the new Jerry Lee Lewis in the ...

Buddy Holly: The Complete Buddy Holly

Review by Bill Millar, Melody Maker, December 1979

NO PROBLEM here. Charly’s compendium of Ronnie Hawkins Toronto out-takes isn’t released until next month (I checked) and, however might the music, their oft-reissued Jerry ...

Ivory Joe Hunter

Sleevenotes by Bill Millar, Ace Records, 1999

ANY ONE ALBUM BY IVORY JOE HUNTER can only hint at the depth and breadth of a career which spanned five decades of entertainment experience. ...

Johnny & The Hurricanes: Johnny and the Hurricanes: Stormy Weather

Retrospective and Interview by Bill Millar, History of Rock, The, 1982

Although they scored four Top Thirty hits in the USA, Johnny and the Hurricanes doubled that figure in Britain, where they sold almost as many ...

Etta James: Payin' The Cost

Profile and Interview by Bill Millar, Melody Maker, September 1978

YOU CAN ENJOY Etta James as a throwback to the rockin' Fifties. You can admire her as the apotheosis of Sixties soul performing ghetto clubs ...

Little Willie John: In Memoriam: Little Willie John

Obituary by Bill Millar, Soul Music, June 1968

"Walla Walla, Washington: Willie John, co-writer of ‘Fever’, popularised by Peggy Lee, died Sunday (26) at the Washington State Penitentiary where he had been imprisoned ...

Little Willie John: The Turbulent Career Of Little Willie John

Retrospective by Bill Millar, History of Rock, The, 1982

Little Willie John brought soul to blues balladry and helped to change the whole direction of black popular music. Born William Edward John in Camden, ...

Little Willie John: Willie John: A Soul Who Died In Jail

Retrospective by Bill Millar, Record Mirror, June 1972

THE DEATH of Little Willie John is chronicled in the June 8th 1968 edition of Billboard. Datelined Walla Walla, Washington, May 27th, the notice reads: ...

Buddy Knox

Retrospective by Bill Millar, History of Rock, The, 1982

TEX-MEX, A PHRASE commonly used to describe the rock’n’roll of such artists as Buddy Holly and Buddy Knox, has nothing whatever to do with Mexican ...

Buddy Knox

Sleevenotes by Bill Millar, Pye Records, 1972

Tex-Mex rockabilly is synonymous with Buddy Holly and it’s impossible to write of Buddy Knox without reference to his more famous namesake. ...

Patti LaBelle & The Belles: Tiles, London

Live Review by Bill Millar, Soul, June 1966

After the usual twang-and-thud brigade (I’ve forgotten who it was) Patti and company came on disagreeably late in the evening. The four attractive girls, in ...

Leiber and Stoller: Leiber And Stoller Part One: The Blues (1950-1953)

Retrospective by Bill Millar, Let It Rock, May 1974

JERRY LEIBER AND MIKE STOLLER. They rank alongside Berry as rock ‘n’ roll’s wittiest composers and their influence as record producers has been immeasurable. ...

Leiber and Stoller: Leiber And Stoller Part Two: The rock 'n' roll years

Retrospective by Bill Millar, Let It Rock, June 1974

THE SWITCH from blues to rock ‘n’ roll was gradual and, as far as Leiber and Stoller were concerned, never total. ...

Barbara Lewis

Discography by Bill Millar, Soul Music Monthly, April 1967

When a hit recording by a male singer emanates from the Atlantic label or one of its subsidiaries, it may be assumed, almost without exception, ...

Jerry Lee Lewis: Echoes: Jerry Lee Lewis

Retrospective by Bill Millar, Record Mirror, March 1972

ON 22nd MAY 1958, an immigration officer manning the desk for TWA flights from New York to London Airport North scratched his head, sighed, picked ...

Little Richard: Saville Theatre, London

Live Review by Bill Millar, Soul Music Monthly, March 1967

Little Richard has recently achieved considerable publicity and one may assume that Brian Epstein nudged the Press and ITV into action. However it was caused, ...

Frankie Lymon

Retrospective by Bill Millar, History of Rock, The, 1981

AS ROCK'N'ROLL GROUPS PROLIFERATED, the age at which they turned professional took a nosedive. With names such as the Classmates, the Juniors or the Sixteens, ...

Frankie Lymon And The Teenagers

Profile by Bill Millar, Soul Music Monthly, March 1967

It could not have been uncommon to have to wander around the poorer suburbs of New York City in the early 1950s, especially in the ...

Frankie Lymon: Why Do Fools Fall In Love?

Sleevenotes by Bill Millar, Pye Records, 1972

Black vocal groups once sang for enjoyment on street-corners throughout ghettos in each of the big American cities. Late into the night they harmonised together, ...

Frankie Lymon: I’m Not A Juvenile Delinquent: The Death of Frankie Lymon

Obituary by Bill Millar, Soul Music Monthly, March 1968

THE LAST TWO months have been sad times for blues, rock and soul fans all the world over. All three idioms have had their brutal ...

Lonnie Mack: Memphis Wham!

Sleevenotes by Bill Millar, Ace Records, July 1999

The term 'influential' is applied to almost anyone these days but there’s still a case for saying that the massively popular blues-rock guitar genre can ...

Big Jay McNeely

Sleevenotes by Bill Millar, Saxonograph Records sleevenote, 1985

IN AUGUST 1983 Big Jay McNeely flew to London for the R & B Jamboree at Camden 's Electric Ballroom where he topped a bill ...

Garnet Mimms: Whisky A Go Go, London

Live Review by Bill Millar, Soul Music, April 1967

MANY ENTHUSIASTS feel that Garnet Mimms is the best of the current crop of soul-ballad vocalists and if we pretend that "soul" is an idiom ...

Art Neville: Meter Man

Profile and Interview by Bill Millar, Let It Rock, April 1974

THE RAINBOW, July 2nd last. Art Neville saved the show. Didn't he? Dr. John made a gas of an entrance but, from then on – ...

Jimmy C. Newman: Cajun: Swamp Pop

Overview by Bill Millar, Record Mirror, June 1971

COUNTRY music does not accept outside influences as readily as r&b and r&b doesn't lap them up as greedily as pop music. ...

Tony Orlando: Before Dawn

Retrospective by Bill Millar, History of Rock, The, 1982

IN FEBRUARY 1962, Tony Orlando toured Britain with Clarence Henry and Bobby Vee. Henry boogied his head off but no-one had paid to see the ...

Tony Orlando: The Last Of The Teenage Idols

Retrospective by Bill Millar, Record Mirror, April 1971

THE ODEON, Kingston-upon-Thames. Or maybe it was The Granada. It's 9.20 p.m. on the 15th February 1962 and Clarence 'Frogman' Henry has just boogied his ...

Johnny Otis: Listen to the Lambs (W.W. Norton, NY)

Review by Bill Millar, Shout, December 1969

Johnny Otis is a 48-year-old Greek American, genetically white but black in every other conceivable respect. And if that’s difficult to comprehend, consider that, as ...

Johnny Otis: The Godfather of R&B

Retrospective by Bill Millar, Record Mirror, July 1972

I THOUGHT Johnny Otis was suffering from over-exposure Dave Wolf who has drained his life savings to bring over Johnny's entire package thinks not. So ...

Robert Parker: Shakespeare Hotel, Woolwich, London

Live Review by Bill Millar, Soul Music Monthly, January 1967

THE NUMBER OF blues and blues-based artistes touring the UK in the autumn months is quite absurd and not everybody will have the time or ...

The Penguins: ‘Earth Angel’ and the Heavenly Host

Retrospective by Bill Millar, Let It Rock, February 1973

THERE WERE a lot of a angels in the Rockin’ Fifties: ‘Teen Angel’, ‘Angel Baby’, ‘Angel Face’, ‘Angel of Romance’, ‘Angel of Mine’; Angels in ...

Carl Perkins: Boss Blues Bopper: Carl Perkins

Retrospective by Bill Millar, Cream, July 1971

Kilburn High Street. November 2nd 1964. 10.15 p.m. Half a dozen youths are jigging about and clapping their hands. Not just to keep them warm ...

Esther Phillips

Discography by Bill Millar, Soul Music Monthly, February 1967

Had Little Esther been born in the 1920s instead of the 1930s, I feel sure she would have become as widely admired as that other ...

The Platters: Buck Ram and The Platters

Profile and Interview by Bill Millar, Let It Rock, April 1973

BUCK RAM is remembered for The Platters and a number of hit records: 'Only You' and 'The Great Pretender' (1955); 'The Magic Touch', 'My Prayer' ...

The Platters: The Most Successful Singing Group Of The Fifties

Retrospective by Bill Millar, History of Rock, The, 1982

The Platters sold 50 million records to become the most successful black doowoppers on the history of rock. They were assembled, coached and directed by ...

Lloyd Price

Retrospective by Bill Millar, History of Rock, The, 1981

FROM BLUES SHOUTER TO BLACK ENTREPRENEUR ...

Otis Redding at Tiles: 16.09.1966

Live Review by Bill Millar, Soul Music Monthly, October 1966

OTIS SHOULD receive a mention in the Financial Times this year. The attendances on his recent our, especially in the London area, were quite phenomenal. ...

Charlie Rich: Rich and Mellow

Discography by Bill Millar, Record Mirror, August 1972

"ULTIMATELY there was Charlie Rich. Rich was a Georgia cotton farmer and he was into his thirties, he had grey hair and a paunch. Still ...

Ritchie Valens, Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs: Chicano Rock: Down Mexico Way

Overview by Bill Millar, Let It Rock, September 1975

Chicano Rock: Ritchie Valens, Sam The Sham, Sunny and the Sunglows and more. ...

Edwin Starr

Profile by Bill Millar, Soul Music Monthly, February 1967

Edwin Starr was born Charles Hatcher in the country-music capital of Nashville, Tennessee, on 21st January 1942. Neither his mother, Amanda, nor his father, William, ...

Edwin Starr: Tiles, London

Live Review by Bill Millar, Soul Music Monthly, February 1967

HAVE PITY on the unfortunate rhythm and blues enthusiast for whom the West End of London is the most convenient place to get to; inevitably ...

Ike & Tina Turner, Tina Turner: The Ike And Tina Turner Revue: Streatham Locarno, London

Live Review by Bill Millar, Soul Music Monthly, April 1968

IN SEPTEMBER 1966, some seven thousand people saw the Rolling Stones and like & Tina Turner at the Royal Albert Hall and – judging by ...

Conway Twitty: The Lonely Country Blues Boy

Overview by Bill Millar, Record Mirror, August 1971

WHEN discussing the history of rock 'n' roll, a number of writers have recently implied that the attention paid to black influences has long obscured ...

Mary Wells: Teenage Chart-Topper With Motown Style

Retrospective by Bill Millar, History of Rock, The, 1982

Mary Wells helped create the history that surrounds the Motown sound. She was their third chart-topper and the first to achieve international acclaim. But despite ...

Larry Williams: A Bad Boy Blown Away

Obituary by Bill Millar, Melody Maker, January 1980

SOME PEOPLE nurture memories of the first time they copped a feel or saw the New York skyline. For me, it's hearing Larry Williams' 'She ...

Jackie Wilson

Sleevenotes by Bill Millar, Ace Records, 1984

JACKIE WILSON, pioneer showman of the old rhythm and blues school, possessed the most acrobatic voice in black music. ...

Link Wray: A Link With The Past

Interview by Bill Millar, Melody Maker, June 1979

Tag; the jet-black hair, dark shades and gaunt Shawnee Indian cheekbones evoke an image of prowling malevolence which was crystallised by 'Rumble' but still some ...

List of genre pieces

Acappella: The Rise And Fall Of Acappella

Guide by Bill Millar, Record Mirror, June 1972

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, 1954. Five young men stood around a tape recorder in a church cellar and gang. They couldn't afford a band but wouldn't ...

Ahmet Ertegun and Various Authors: What’d I Say: The Atlantic Records Story

Review by Bill Millar, unpublished, 2001

THIS IS ONE muthahumping doorstep of a book as big as the Times Atlas and just as heavy. There are 900 photos and 160,000 words ...

Alan Freed: Mr Rock'n'Roll

Retrospective by Bill Millar, History of Rock, The, 1982

ALAN FREED, the man responsible for giving rock'n'roll its name, was many things to many people. To some, he was the original Mr Clean, an ...

Berry Gordy: Motown Magician

Profile by Bill Millar, History of Rock, The, 1982

Until recently little was known of Berry Gordy Jnr’s background. Such information as was available made no sense at all except on a romantic level, ...

Blue-eyed soul: Colour Me Soul

Overview by Bill Millar, History of Rock, The, 1983

The phrase 'blue-eyed soul' was coined by Georgie Woods, a black disc jockey on the WDAS radio station in Philadelphia. One of the major personalities ...

British Rock 'n' Soul

Overview by Bill Millar, Record Mirror, January 1972

THERE'S A HOT SEAT in my house. Right by the record player. Victims are required to sit in it and hazard a guess at the ...

Doo-wop: At The Hop

Retrospective by Bill Millar, History of Rock, The, 1982

White vocal groups of the Fifties embraced a variety of styles and sounds, ranging from adult pop groups (the Ames Brothers, the Four Aces, the ...

Doo-wop: Still White & Alright

Retrospective by Bill Millar, Let It Rock, May 1975

FIRST, A BOOK. Despite the comparatively recent growth industry in rock'n'roll literature, we still don't have a half-way decent encyclopaedia worthy of the name. The ...

In The Farms And On The Forecourts: The Short-Lived Heyday Of Rockabilly

Retrospective by Bill Millar, History of Rock, The, 1981

THE FIRST RECORDED example of rockabilly proper can be traced to the moment in July 1954 when Elvis Presley cut an old blues by Arthur ...

Rhythm and Blues

Retrospective by Bill Millar, History of Rock, The, 1981

Crude, powerful, loud… and the racing pulse of rock ...

Rockabilly: Was this the purest style in rock?

Retrospective by Bill Millar, History of Rock, The, 1981

A DEFT, HARD-DRIVING BLEND of country, gospel and blues, rockabilly was performed mainly by white artists who traded legitimate country backgrounds for a short-lived but ...

Sun Records: Sun Worship

Book Review by Bill Millar, Let It Rock, June 1975

Martin Hawkins and Colin Escott: Catalyst (Aquarius, £2.90, 176pp) ...

Swamp Rock: Local heroes who rocked the everglades

Overview by Bill Millar, History of Rock, The, 1983

Four hundred miles of US highway run between Port Arthur, Texas in the West and New Orleans, Louisiana in the East. On either side of ...

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