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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sinatra/Miller Feud

  A couple of people have asked about the notorious feud between Miller and Sinatra.  Here's a little back ground on the subject.

In September of 1956 The House Judiciary subcommittee was investigating the television industry and the monopoly involved.  Sinatra sent a telegram to them complaining that Miller forced inferior material on him because Columbia had a financial interest in all parts of the final product.
"Before Mr. Miller's arrival at Columbia Records, I found myself enjoying a freedom of Selection of material, a freedom which I may modestly say resulted in a modicum of success for me."

"Suddenly Mr. Miller, by design or coincidence, began to present many, many inferior songs, all curiously bearing the BMI (Broadcast Music Inc) label."

Sinatra then stated he preferred  material from ASCAP

Miller replied to Sinatra's telegram.  Saying he shouldn't blame music for his decline, but rather his own hectic love life at the time.  Miller noted that Sinatra recorded while under him 51 ASCAP songs and only 5 BMI songs, but since joining Capitol, which has no broadcast connections, he has recorded "at least 10 BMI songs out of a total of 49."  Miller also noted that Sinatra, a member of ASCAP has recorded at least 30 songs in which he has a financial interest.

"If they want to examnine the record, they will find that under my aegis at Columbia, Frank Sinatra recorded 95 per cent or more ASCAP songs and five percent BMI.  It is a matter of record"

While in Pittsburgh in September of 1957 Miller struck back on the radio with:
"I can't believe that Frank has been behind these charges. I think a high-powered public relations firm is using him."

 "When Frank left Columbia," went on Mitch, "He owed us $150,000. That debt has been erased through royalties on the songs he recorded for us during the time he says we forced him to do unsalable tunes."

Miller reflected again in November 0f 1962:
"Like with Sinatra. He left Columbia owing $150,000. We couldn't give his records away. He blamed us, but what about his nightclub appearences? Or his movies? This was during his slump time and nothing was going for him. Later those same songs earned him a million dollars.  It wasn't my fault they hadn't sold them. It was just timing."

The BMI "SIX":

1. January 12, 1950
Chattanoogis Shoe Shine Boy
w/The Jeff Alexander Choir
(H. Stone/J. Stapp)
Acuff-Rose Publ. (BMI) 1950

2. June 28, 1950
Goodnight Irene
w/The Mitch Miller Singers
(H. Ledbetter/J. Lomax)
Spencer Music Corp. (BMI) 1950
Arranged & Conducted by Mitch Miller

3. July 19, 1951
Castle Rock
w/The Harry James Orchestra
(E. Drake/J. Shirl/A. Sears)
Wemar Music Corp. (BMI) 1951
Arranged by Ray Conniff

4. January 7, 1952
I Hear A Rhapsody
w/The Jeff Alexander Choir
(G. Fragos/J. Baker/D. Gasparre)
Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) 1940
Arrangemed & Conducted by Axel Stordahl

5. February 6, 1952
My Girl
(C. Freed)
Ludlow Music, Inc. (BMI) 1952
Arranged & Conducted by Axel Stordahl

6. June 3, 1952
Azure-Te (Paris Blues)
(D. Wolf/B. Davis)
Gale & Gayles, Inc. (BMI) 1952
Arranged & Counducted by Axel Stordahl
Arranged & Conducted by Axel Stordahl,

Dorothy Kilgallen a favorite target of Sinatra's refered to him of tagging Miller with the "payola blast" a stool pigeon.

Article references:
1. September 21, 1956 St. Peterberg Times
2. September 21, 1956 Daytona Beach Morning Journal
3. December 8, 1957 Sundy Journal
4. September 13, 1957 Dorothy Kilgallen
5. September 18, 1957 Pittsburgh Press
6. November 11, 1962 The Miami News
© 2010 The Sinatra Archive

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