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Darnell Miller
Born:  March 8, 1937
WWVA Original Jamboree
WHIS Bluefield, WV
WOAY Oak Hill, WV
WPUV Pulaski, VA
WRIS Roanoke, VA
WRVA Richmond, VA

About The Artist

Promo Ad - August 1967 Darnell Miller and Mary Lou Turner Willard Darnell Miller was born near Bland, Virginia, only a few miles from Bluefield, West Virginia. WHIS radio had a strong tradition of live country music programming, dating back to the late 1930's, owned by the influential Shott family who also owned the Bluefield Telegraph and later WHIS-TV. Among those who had worked at WHIS over the years included Lynn Davis and Molly O'Day, Lee and Juanita Moore, Rex and Eleanor Parker, Cecil Surratt, and the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers.

As an aspiring country singer, Darnell obtained a position at WHIS in 1953 beginning the same day as Melvin Goins who would become a significant figure in bluegrass circles. Country Song Roundup reported that affiliation with WHIS was via a talent show and he was just 16 years old at the time. When the Shott's added television to their media business, Darnell also worked on their programs, often with Cecil Surratt and Smitty Smith whose musical groups were collectively known as the Swing Kings.

In 1957, he was being featured on two television shows over WHIS-TV. One show was the "RFD Jamboree" and the other was the "Saturday Night Jamboree."

When he was a senior in high school, he would attend classes in the morning, record his taped radio shows in the afternoon, then do personal appearances at night.

Portrait Photo - Darnell Miller - Circa 1970 But his work on television was not always before the camera. An article about WHIS-TV and radio indicated that while Darnell was "getting up with the chickens" in the morning, he was the one that got Channel 6 on the air just before sunup. In the mornings he was known as a "switcher". In the afternoon, his role was as "director" and when needed, a cameraman or scene setter.

At times, he also appeared on WOAY in Oak Hill (both radio and TV) and WRVA Richmond, home of the Old Dominion Barn Dance.

Darnell's first recordings came out on Don Pierce's Starday label where he had three singles released in 1958 and 1959. His first release was "Cardboard Sweetheart," but the second "Mommie, Will My Doggie Understand," (songs about terminally ill children nearly always had appeal in Appalachia) was the most memorable, and appeared on a mixed artist LP.

Darnell made his first appearance on WSM's Grand Ole Opry in September 1964 while he was with the Challenge label (owned by Gene Autry). Hugh X. Lewis was another artist who made his first appearance on the Opry around the same time. Hugh had just written Stonewall Jackson's hit, "B. J. the D. J." Darnell was promoting his release of "Sold The Farm" during his visit to Nashville and also appeared on the "Bobby Lord Show".

Miller's later recordings, albums, and compact discs have appeared on smaller labels such as Aaron, Challenge. Deneba, Fanfare, Phono, and Salem.

Promo Ad - Darnell Miller - Nov 1974 Darnell was signed to the Challenge record label (then owned by Gene Autry) by label president Joe Johnson in mid-1964. His initial release — "Show Me The Door" — got some interest by DJs. Radio station KFOX out of Long Beach, CA named him artist of the day and as a result, played the record every hour on the hour for entire broadcast day. Two stations in Nashville, WENO and WLVN, gave the disk "Pick of the Week" honors.

In early 1969, Cash Box reported that Billy Grammer was producing sessions for Darnell. The masters from those sessions would then be leased for distribution.

In late 1969, Darnell signed with the label owned by Danny Harrison - Deneba. In fact, Danny had just been signed to be a regular on the Jamboree and Darnell was to sign his contract with Deneba on-stage during a Jamboree program. When Darnell went to record a session for the label in Nashville with Harrison, he had the A-team backing him on his recordings. The musicians included Lloyd Green, Hargus (Pig) Robbins, Bob Moore, Buddy Harman and Ray Edenton. Later that year, Billboard told readers that he was under management with Bob Gallion at the time who had just taken over for Mac Wiseman as head of the Wheeling Talent Agency.

In 1972, Darnell signed with the Trans-World Associates, a personal management company with offices in New York and Hollywood. He was to be produced by Joe Deaton.

In the latter part of 1975, National Telepix, Inc. formed the Telepix records company that was to be headed by Jud Phillips and Max King. They had signed Darnell Miller as well as Sweet Magnolia and Jean Bonard.

Portrait - Darnell Miller - 1988 Darnell was featured as a "Rising Star" in Cash Box in 1988 even though he had already been on the Jamboree for over 20 years at that time. But Joe Henderson thought he was worthy as Darnell had revived his recording career with a tune called "Breakdown Hideaway" on Playback Records, which had edged into the Top 100 chart. Joe felt that Darnell had that "star" category in his pocket for some time and felt that Joe felt that Darnell had reached into that pocket to tell folks that his star was rising again. Joe tells readers that Darnell started at the age of 9 on his musical journey when he started playing his dad's guitar.

A promotional article for a 1971 appearance provides a history of some of his television and radio show appearances. He had appeared on the Ralph Emery Show, the Arthur Smith Show in Charlotte, NC, the Old Dominion Barn Dance show in Richmond, VA, the Mac Wiseman Record Show in Wheeling, Clyde Moody's Virginia Barn Dance in Danville, VA and others.

Darnell Miller began his affiliation with the World's Original Jamboree (later Jamboree USA) in 1966. It continued off and on since that time.

In 2017, Darnell received an award for fifty years with what is now the Wheeling Jamboree (no longer affiliated with WWVA).

At age eighty-three, Darnell continues to be a semi-active country musician.

Credits & Sources

  • Hillbilly-Music.com would like to express its thanks to Ivan M. Tribe, author of Mountaineer Jamboree — Country Music in West Virginia and other books that can be found on Amazon.com and numerous articles in other publications for providing us with information about this artist.
  • Future Stars; December 1957; Issue No. 53; Country Song Roundup; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Charlton Building; Derby, CT
  • Starday Stars; July 1959; Issue No. 61; Country Song Roundup; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Charlton Building; Derby, CT
  • WHIS-TV & Radio Roundup; May 1960; Issue No. 66; Country Song Roundup; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Charlton Building; Derby, CT
  • Nashville Report; Ruth Charon; Country Music Review; November/December 1964; Cal-Western Publications, Inc.; 1860 S. State College Blvd.; Anaheim, CA
  • WWVA Darnell Miller To Appear At Brockway Kiwanis Jamboree; March 25, 1971; Brockway Record; Brockway, PA
  • With The Country Jockeys; Bill Sachs; June 6, 1964; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • Country Music Corner; Bill Sachs; June 6, 1964; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • Country Music Corner; Bill Sachs; October 17, 1964; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • Country Roundup; February 15, 1969; Cash Box; New York, NY
  • Nashville Scene; Bill Williams; November 15, 1969; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • Nashville Scene; Bill Williams; April 11, 1970; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • Gallion, Booker, Managing Wheeling Talent Agency; September 19, 1970; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • Nashville Scene; November 4, 1972; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • Telepix Forms Record Company; October 4, 1975; Cash Box; New York, NY
  • Rising Stars - Darnell Miller; Joe Henderson; November 26, 1988; Cash Box; New York, NY

Printer Friendly Version

Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

Challenge (GA)
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  59241 A Show Me The Door
  59241 B The Floor Above Your Ceiling
  59256 A The Hinges On The Door
  59256 B Sold The Farm
  59319 A Close To Tears
  59319 B You Can't Make Hay Pickin' Cotton
  59336 A The World's Better Half
  59336 B You're Just Another Broken Heart (That Hasn't Happened Yet)
  59367 A The Bare Facts
  59367 B Rainbow Of Loneliness
  59378 A My Imagination
  59378 B Hero Of The House
Dale Records
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  45-630 A Waiting Game For Love
  45-630 B Getting' Out Of The Woods
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  7611 A Even If I Have To Steal
  7611 B If I Can't Be With The One I Love
  7616 A Now Tell Yourself
  7616 B Take My Conscience Off
  7619 A The Camel's Back
  7619 B I Cried Again Last Night
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  FF-015 A I Know You're Married (But I Love You Still)
  FF-015 B Daddy, I'm Walking In Your Footprints
  FF-06 A From Her Head, To Her Toes, To Her Heart
  FF-06 B Chicago's Lonely Streets
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  P-2634 A Daddy, I'm Walking In Your Footprints
  P-2634 B Beautiful Junk
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  P-1319 A Breakdown Hideaway
  P-1319 B Her Face After Lovin' Me
  P-1333 A Old Fashioned Morals
  P-1333 B The Who I Am
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  M-507 A Chickahominy Joe
  M-507 B Trying To Forget
  M-519 A Number One
  M-519 B One Never Knows
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  349 A She's Gone
  349 B Cardboard Sweetheart
  422 A Mommy, Will My Doggie Understand
  422 B Royal Flush
  459 A Mark Of Coin
  459 B Back To You

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