The Mills Brothers Society was founded in
1993 by Dan Clemson, Charlie Horner and Jim McGowen. Our goal was to
preserve the legacy of one of the greatest, if not the greatest, vocal
harmony quartets of the 20th Century, The Mills Brothers. Since the
group was founded in 1925, The Mills Brothers have sold more than 50 million
records, toured the world 16 times and appeared in 40 films. Though
the original four brothers are no longer with us, the Mills Brothers legacy
is carried on today by John Mills, son and nephew of the original members,
and Elmer Hopper, formerly with the Platters. Most important is the
influence the Mills Brothers have had on music world wide. All secular
vocal harmony groups formed after 1930, whether in pop, jazz, Rhythm &
Blues, Rock & Roll or barbershop harmony, owe something to The Mills
Brothers! To visit The Mills Brothers website click
Dan Clemson, the world's leading authority on
the Mills Brothers, was president of the Mills Brothers Society for it's
first ten years. During that time, the Society became an international
organization, publishing an informative newsletter and holding two
conventions in Bellefonte, PA and two in Virginia Beach, VA. All
Society conventions centered around Mills Brothers concerts. When Dan
stepped down in 2003, Charlie Horner became president. We printed an
issue of a full Society magazine and held another, smaller scale convention
in Virginia Beach. In spite of a valiant effort by Charlie and the
remaining board members, over the next two years it became obvious that the
organization lacked the support needed to continue in the manner that it had
existed in the past. Of the few volunteers we had to maintain the
Society, all of us were working full time jobs and being pulled in different
directions. Eventually the Society became inactive.
Early in 2011, Dan Clemson suggested to
former Society officers Charlie Horner and Anthony DiFlorio that we hold one
more get-together and assist bringing John & Elmer to Bellefonte PA to sing.
The event took hold quickly, and Charlie & Pam Horner tried to notify former
Society members by mail. Unfortunately, many of our members, including
our friend and Society co-founder Jim McGowen, are no longer with us.
Many others had moved or were unable to travel to Bellefonte. However,
those who were able to attend our latest Mills Brothers Society gathering
had a fabulous time. In Bellefonte, we floated the idea of a Society
web page, connected to
www.classicurbanharmony.net. While our Mills Brothers Society is
much smaller in size and scope now, we are still united in our appreciation
of the Mills Brothers and their music and continue to believe strongly in
preserving their legacy. There'll be no dues or printed newsletters
but from now on, this website will be the voice of the Mills Brothers
Society. Check back with this site often to see what we've added.
Proctor, noted group harmony historian and authority on the Ink Spots passes.
Sad to report that our good friend, Bill Proctor passed away
July 9, 2015, of pancreatic cancer. Bill was one of the world's experts
on the pioneer vocal group, the Ink Spots, and his detailed research on early
vocal harmony groups taught us much. He was also a long time member of
the Mills Brothers Society. Our sincere condolences to Bill's wife Sandy
and family. We miss you, Bill. - Charlie & Pam
Bill Proctor at our wedding, 2005
news: Mills Brothers Musical in the Works
"Up A Lazy River," a musical about the Mills Brothers is now in
the works. Look for it to open in February 2016 in Los Angeles.
See flyer, below. We'll keep you informed when we learn more.
Classic Urban Harmony Newsletter is the first to break the news that a Mills
Brothers biography is now in the works. Douglas E. Friedman, author of
Encyclopedia of Early American Vocal Groups and
The Comedian Harmonists: The Last Great Jewish Performers in Nazi Germany,
is working with Dan Clemson, longtime Mills Brothers historian and
former co-founder/president of the Mills Brothers Society to make this a
reality. Both of Friedman's earlier books are reviewed in the
Bookshelf Page of this
website. Friedman has already reviewed Dan Clemson's huge collection of Mills
Brothers memorabilia, now housed at the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus,
OH. Classic Urban Harmony has also opened our collection of Mills Brothers
memorabilia and recordings to Douglas Friedman who visited us last week. The
Mills Brothers are considered by most historians to be the greatest vocal
quartet of the 20th Century and their biography is long overdue.
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)
Dan Clemson's Article, "The
Mills Brothers Trace Roots To Bellefonte" Published in Pennsylvania
Congrats to Mills Brothers Society co-founder, Dan Clemson, for
his outstanding article on the Mills Brothers just published in the Winter
2012 issue of Pennsylvania Heritage magazine! Pennsylvania
Heritage is a quarterly magazine published by the Pennsylvania Historical
and Museum Commission, intended to introduce readers to Pennsylvania's rich
culture and historic legacy. Dan Clemson's article traces the history of
the Mills family from their escape from slavery on the Underground Railroad in
the 1820's through their establishment as prominent residents of Bellefonte,
PA. It tells the story of the Mills Brothers origin and career in
clarity and detail not previously published in one article. Kudos, Dan!
Individual copies of Pennsylvania Heritage can usually
be obtained for $10 on their website,
http://pabookstore.com/ We just checked
and the Winter 2012 issue is not yet available, but we'll let you know when it
New Richard Gruden Book to
include story of the Mills Brothers and a forward by our own Dan Clemson!
The new Richard Gruden book, "Perfect Harmony," due out
this month, will have the story of the Mills Brothers along with countless
other groups from the Andrews Sisters to the Ink Spots. One of the
forwards to the book was written by our own Dan Clemson, co-founder of the
Mills Brothers Society. We'll let you know when the book is published
and how to get a copy.
Recent Mills Brothers Performances:
August 20, 2011 [Rolling Hills Estates, CA]
Mills Brothers Performance included Don Mills Jr. as
special guest along with John Mills II and Elmer Hopper at Norris Center in
Rolling Hills Estate, CA. Gina Eckstine also performed.
The Mills Brothers benefit performance on Saturday August 20,
2011 at the Norris Center for the Performing Arts in Rolling Hills, CA, will
also included Don Mills Jr. as special guest along with John Mills II and Elmer
Hopper! Guest artist Gina Eckstine, daughter of legendary jazz singer
Billy Eckstine also performed!
September 17 & 18, 2011 [Bridgeport, CT]
Mills Brothers and Ink Spots in "Magic Moments" concert
in Bridgeport, CT
The Mills Brothers and Ink Spots combined for a "Magic Moments"
concert (two nights) at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre, 263 Golden Hill Street,
Bridgeport, CT, on September 17 and 18, 2011. We saw this combination and it
fabulous. Last time we saw the Ink Spots they had Herman Denby
(Swallows) [now deceased], Sonny Hatchett (Sonny & Dukes), Harold Winley (Clovers) and Morris
Dow. Of course, the Mills Brothers (John Mills II and
Elmer Hopper) are always super. (To see photos of these two groups in
Beach Haven NJ in 2008, click
Mills Bros/Ink Spots.)