Friday, December 18, 2009
I Want to Party With Mrs. Mills!
In my last collection of Bad Cover Art: The Yuletide Edition I included an album by Mrs. Mills. One of my readers, Richard (who writes a fantastic blog called The Bewildered Brit - check it out sometime if you don't already follow it) kindly told me the back story on Mrs. M. Turns out she was not a one-hit novelty wonder but one of England's biggest recording stars in the 1960s. She even shared studio space with the Beatles at Abbey Road Studios.
Mrs. Mills' story is of the rags-to-riches variety. She was employed as a superintendent of the typing pool in the Paymaster General's office, when in Decemeber 1961 she was spotted by a talent scout at a Woodford Golf Club dance near her home in Loughton, Essex. What was her talent? She played the piano...quite well, in fact, often covering sing along pub songs and roaring 20s ragtime hits, sometimes accompanied by a chorus. In later years, she expanded her catalog to more contemporary hits such as "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing", "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend", and "Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree."
And here's the thing - I looked her up on YouTube, somewhat open minded, but wary that she'd end up reminding me of another Mrs. M - Mrs. Miller - who was like a female version of Tiny Tim at the time. I mean, her album covers alone are enough to make anyone guffaw!
But nothing could be further than the truth. I fell in love with Mrs. Mills' personality and talent immediately. Like today's Susan Boyle, she just seems so real and down to earth. Her warm smile, that friendly air - I mean, she just looks like she should be running a B&B in the English countryside, greeting guests with an "Ello luv, come right in for some tea and crumpets and a singalong!" Don't mind if I do!
And this lady loved to party. Just check out the numerous party titles in her rather extensive discography:
“Mrs Mills Hoe-Down Party” parts 1&2
"Everybody’s Welcome At Mrs Mills’ Party”
“Any Time’s Party Time With Mrs Mills”
“It’s Party Time!”
“Mrs Mills’ Party"
“Glad’s Party” parts 1&2
"Mrs Mills Knees-Up Party"
"Non-Stop Honky-Tonk Party"
"What A Wonderful Party"
Mrs. Mills even navigated the antics of Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise gracefully, as seen on this 1973 appearance on the Morecambe & Wise show. They take a few shots at her weight and her fruitcake - although we know perfectly well that this was all in good fun, a show could never get away with this today:
Needless to say, her music and stage presence just makes me happy - a delightful lady. Sadly, Mrs. Mills passed away at the age of 60 in 1978. But if she were still here - I'd accept her invitation and would be putting my party boots on!