Tag Archives: barbershop quartet

The Mills Brothers Laid the Foundation for Doo Wop

Mills Brothers

Mills Brothers

“Paper Doll” sold over 6 million copies in its first release.  Their total record sales are literally uncountable – tens of  millions.  The four brothers Herbert, Donald, Harry and John Mills, Jr started performing as teenagers in the 1920’s imitating instruments on the kazoo. They first started performing under the name “Four Boys and a Guitar.”

Well, the predictable happened……one night they Harry forgot his kazoo and, you know the story…..the rest is history.  The audience was totally amazed at the brothers as they cupped their hands over their mouth to produce muted horn sounds.  They worked on the act and the sound Of Harry as a trumpet, Johan as tuba, Donald as trombone and Herbert as second trumpet laid the foundation for doo wop. This novelty act quickly grew into the highly successful career that spanned over 4 decades!

1928 – Tiger Rag Released

Can you imagine the history of this group.  Their first hit “Tiger Rag” was released in 1928.  They had hits every year from 1935 – 1947 and the recordings continued into the 1990’s with the release of “Still….There’s You,” a compilation of hits throughout the years along with new releases.

Grammy for Lifetime Achievement Award

The Mills Brothers were honored in 1998 with the Grammy for Lifetime Achievement Award.  The four brothers learned their close-harmony first hand.  Dad, John owned a barbershop in Piqua, Ohio and started a barbershop quartet called the Four Kings of Harmony.  The group’s close harmony landed them a solid spot during the swing era.  Their ingenuity and vocal genius earned them the coveted spot of being a true pioneer doo wop. 

We honor them and will never forget their last number one hit in 1952: “Glow Worm.”  Thank you Mills Brothers for giving us your hearts and souls for the past seventy-five years.