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And the Grammy Goes to . . .
CU-Boulder's Glenn Miller

Glenn MillerGlenn Miller, one of the most popular bandleaders of the 1940s swing era and an alumnus of the University of Colorado at Boulder, was posthumously honored at the 2003 Grammy Awards with a lifetime achievement award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Miller joined Etta James, Johnny Mathis, Tito Puente and Simon and Garfunkel as this year's honorees for lifelong artistic contributions. All were recognized at the 45th annual Grammy ceremonies in New York, aired Sunday, Feb. 23.

Miller, born in 1904, attended CU-Boulder from 1923 to 1924 and played in a band of students known as Holly Moyer's Jazz Band. He left school to continue his professional career, playing trombone and arranging music for the bands of Benny Goodman, Red Nichols, the Dorsey Brothers, Ray Noble and others.

He started his own group in 1937, and it quickly became the most popular band in the country. In 1940 alone, the Glenn Miller Orchestra recorded 45 songs that made it into the top-seller charts - a record that still stands. The band was awarded the first-ever gold record in 1942 for selling more than 1 million copies of their hit "Chattanooga Choo-Choo." Other hit tunes included "Tuxedo Junction," "American Patrol," and "In The Mood."

Glenn Miller with TrombonesTragically, Miller was killed only two years later when his plane disappeared over the English Channel. Miller had left his band at the height of its popularity in order to serve as an officer in the U.S. Army, and was in Europe organizing shows for American troops fighting in World War II. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his dedication and sacrifice.

In 1953, students at CU-Boulder officially named the University Memorial Center's ballroom in honor of Miller. Miller's wife Helen, herself a CU-Boulder alumna, convinced the filmmakers of the "Glenn Miller Story" starring Jimmy Stewart to film part of the feature on the CU-Boulder campus.

Today the campus is home to the Glenn Miller Archive and a number of exhibits. At the University's Heritage Center inside Old Main, visitors can view 29 gold records, Miller's trombones and an original manuscript of his theme song, "Moonlight Serenade." In 1984 Miller was posthumously awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters, CU-Boulder's highest academic honor.

"We invite people to come up and see the gold records, including the first gold record ever awarded," said archive curator Alan Cass. "We also have Miller's first trombone and his college trombone."

The archive just moved into new quarters in Macky Auditorium, Cass said, and is now part of the American Music Research Center. Archivists are currently filing, indexing and cataloging the Miller collection.

In 2004, CU-Boulder will celebrate Miller's 100th birthday by hosting performances by the current Glenn Miller Orchestra and a Japanese girls group devoted to Miller's legacy. More information about the celebration will be available as March 2004 approaches, Cass said.

More information on the Glenn Miller Archive, including hours and contact information, can be found at

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