Jody Miller, who had a run of country hits in the 1960s and ’70s that began with the crossover single “Queen of the House,” died October 6 or Parkinson’s complications in Blanchard, OK. She was 80.
First signed to Capitol Records as a folk act in 1962, Miller dented the pop charts with “He Walks Like a Man” two years later before hitting it big with “Queen of the House” in 1965. An answer record to Roger Miller’s hit “King of the Road” that used his song’s music, it reached the Top 5 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart and hit No. 12 on the Hot 100. The song win her a Grammy for Best Country & Western Vocal Performance – Female, and she also was nomination for Best New Country & Western Artist.
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That song would be her biggest crossover hit, but Miller — no relation to Roger — continued to record for Capitol through the 1960s, releasing a slew of singles including “Home of the Brave” and “Long Black Limousine.” She also hit the pop chart with a version “Silver Threads and Golden Needles,” later a hit for Linda Ronstadt.
Moving to Epic Records in 1970, Miller began working with “countrypolitan” producer Billy Sherrill, who was mentored by Sun Records founder Sam Phillips and later produced Tammy Wynette, George Jones and others. Miller scored four more country Top 10s with “He’s So Fine,” “Baby I’m Yours,” “There’s a Party Goin’ On” and “Darling, You Can Always Come Back Home.” In all, she had more than two dozen songs hit the country chart through the 1970s.
She also appeared on TV shows including Hee Haw and Pop! Goes the Country.
“Not only was she a great talent, but she was one of the nicest people I have ever worked with,” her former rep Jim Halsey said in a statement “She had a fantastic voice and a wonderful career. You are loved, Jody, and I am so honored to have represented you.”
Born Myrna Joy Brooks on November 29, 1941, in Phoenix, Miller began her career in the Los Angeles. She retired from touring in the early 1980s, helping to run her husband Monty Brooks’ quarterhorse breeding and training business in Blanchard. She turned to recording gospel music in the 1990s and began performing in the 2010s with her daughter Robin Brooks Sullivan and two grandchildren as Jody Miller and Three Generations. Miller continued to record throughout her 60-year career, releasing her final album, Wayfaring Stranger, in 2020.
“Jody Miller’s talent cannot be overstated,” her longtime rep Jennifer McMullen said in a statement. “She had this innate, God-given ability to interpret and communicate with the most beautiful tones and inflection. She made it look and sound so easy that it sometimes takes a moment to realize the greatness of what you are hearing. But she was just as authentic and exceptional in her own life as she was on stage and on record.”
She was inducted into the International Country Music Hall of Fame.
Last year she attended the groundbreaking for The Jody Miller Performing Arts Center, a Blanchard Public School building.
Miller is survived by her daughter and grandchildren Montana and Layla Sullivan. Memorial arrangements are pending.
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