Western Trips

Western Trips

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Singer Songwriters / Roger Miller Museum

roger miller museum
Roger Miller Museum, Erick Oklahoma

Erick Oklahoma, a town directly on the old Route 66 and approximately the halfway point along Interstate 40 between Ashville North Carolina and Barstow California, is also the home of the Roger Miller Museum. Roger Miller was a among the country superstar singer songwriters and a talented all around performer of such hits as "King of the Road," "Dang Me," "You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd". Miller started his music career in the late 1950's after serving in the U.S. Army. Erick Oklahoma and the Roger Miller Museum is an excellent addition to your Oklahoma trip planner. Erick is located about 117 miles east of Amarillo Texas and about 144 miles west of Oklahoma City.

Erick Oklahoma was also called home to other performers such as Sheb Wooley who put out the 1958 hit " The Purple People Eater". Wooley acted in the movies "High Noon", "The Outlaw Josey Wales and appeared on television's "Rawhide". He also appeared on the 1950's television series "The Adventures of Kit Carson". Yet another Bluegrass musician from Erick Oklahoma was Herbert Mayfield. Mayfield performed with his brothers Smokey and Thomas Edd. Edd eventually left the group to join up with Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys.

roger miller street sign in Erick Oklahoma
Roger Miller Boulevard street sign
During the early part of Miller's career he moved to Nashville. While there he also worked as a bellhop and at the same time worked with Minnie Pearl playing the fiddle. When things get a bit tough for him in Nashville as a singer and songwriter, Miller, who was married with a child, decided to move to Amarillo Texas to become a fireman. While being on the Amarillo Fire Department, Roger Miller also did singing engagements at night. From Amarillo, Roger moved back to Nashville and worked with Ray Price as one of his "Cherokee Cowboys". This proved to be a good break for Miller. During this time in Nashville, Miller wrote "Invitation to the Blues" which ended up a number three hit on the country music charts.

With that success, Miller was hired by Tree Publishing for $50 a week and wrote "Half a Mind" for Ernest Tubb. Real success came for Roger with "Billy Bayou", his first number one song written recorded by Jim Reeves. Miller's first recording contract came in 1958 with Decca Records. After a few so so recordings for Decca, Miller went on tour with Faron Young as a drummer and ultimately got a recoding contract with Chet Atkin's at RCA. After coming out with a top ten hit on RCA Records, Miller's career and personal life slid where he was divorced and in Hollywood trying to get an acting career together. It was at this point he signed a small contract with Smash Records to put out sixteen recordings for $1,600. This did prove however to be the big career boost he needed and wanted.

roger miller's motorcycle
Roger Miller's first motorcycle
Out of those sixteen recordings were the hits "Dang Me" and "Chug-A-Lug". Both were instant successes on both the Country charts and the Billboard Top 100. After several more hits, Roger Miller, the man who signed a contract for $100 per recording 1964 with Smash Records ended up with his own television show on NBC in 1966. While the Roger Miller Show was cancelled after thirteen weeks, Miller continued to record with good success.

Near the end of the 1970's, Miller's songwriting greatly decreased although he did write a Broadway musical score, even acted on Broadway for a short while and did work with Dwight Yoakam on for the country stars 1990 album. Born in 1936, Roger Miller passed away from cancer in 1992.

Two additional article and photos on Western Trips you'll find interesting are the Buddy Holly Center and museum in Lubbock Texas and Route 66 and Amarillo Texas.

More information about Roger Miller and his career can be found at rogermiller.com

Anyone traveling along Interstate 40 or any other road near Erick Oklahoma will absolutely enjoy a visit to the Roger Miller Museum. The singer and songwriter's museum is filled with photos and artifacts, instruments and writings that tell much of the Roger Miller story. One such artifact you'll see are the hand written lyrics for the hit song "King of the Road". The Roger Miller Museum, whose building it is in was constructed in 1929, is located at the corner of Roger Miller Boulevard (old Route 66) and Sheb Wooley Avenue right in downtown Erick.

(Photos from author's private collection)
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