The Mills Bros.
In Concert with a Big Band

McKinney, Texas
September 9, 2005

I had the pleasure of attending this wonderful show featuring music of The Mills Bros. staged by McKinney Concerts.

In 2003 I had written and produced a radio show entitled Great Quartets and TMB are one of those installments so i had a particular interest in this concert having never seen the original group in person.  I was however, very aware of their music and history. 
Its rare they come through the Dallas area despite their heavy International tour schedule so needless to say i HAD to attend this concert.

Of course the original members, brothers Harry, John Jr.,  Herbert, Donald and their father John Hutchinson Mills Sr., have all gone after performing continuously for about 75 years.

John Mills (grandson of John Hutchinson Mills / son of Donald Mills) and his father had performed for many years as TMB and so it was only natural that John continue the family business and keep the flame alive. 

Backed by an 11 piece Big Band of local musicians, John and Elmer (aka. The Mills Bros.) performed 13 vintage Mills Bros songs recreating and preserving the style and memories of TMB.  They did a wonderful job and paid a quality tribute to the originals.  The audience of McKinney Concert members filled the hall (about 500) and thoroughly enjoyed the music.

My thanks to the Board of Directors of McKinney Concerts for booking this event and helping preserve these memories.  I invite you to support these folks as they stage several fine shows each season.

Here are some photos i took of the concert.  If you ever get a chance to see TMB live i highly recommend you do it as someday they will retire and seeing this national treasure live and in person will no longer be possible.

See this website for their tour schedule and more info

Following this performance John and Elmer were heading for a tour of Japan spreading this music world-wide.  We wish them well and thank them for continuing the preservation of TMB music.

Elmer Hopper
John Mills

The Show

Opus 1
Yellow Bird
You’re Nobody Till Somebody Love You
Paper Doll
Cab Driver
Don’t Blame Me
Twilight Time (Elmer Hopper solo - Platters)
Only You (Elmer Hopper solo - Platters)
You Always Hurt The One You Love
    --------------- Intermission -----------
Bye Bye Blackbird
Still, There’s You (John Mills original / tribute to father)
Basin Street Blues
   ------------------- Encore --------------
Till Then
Nevertheless I’m In Love With You
Up The Lazy River

After the Show
Both John and Elmer were very gracious and took time to meet with EVERY fan waiting in the lobby. They took time to sign EVERY autograph requested.

They were very generous with their time and everyone left that night satisfied the Mills Bros. music is alive and well 

I must report that one of the highlights for many of us was the presence of one of the BIGGEST Platters fans (height and volume) in Mr. Rex Burks of Grand Prairie.  Mr. Burks brought several items from his extensive collection of The Platters and The Mills Brothers. His enthusiasm was infectious to everyone and added a great deal of joy to the evening.

I'm the one in the middle                                                              

All Photos by
Grady Kerr - Dallas, Texas

also see my
Great Quartets
Web Site
and radio show featuring The Mills Bros

Additional Promotional Info
For more than uninterrupted 75 years, the magical appeal of the eloquent music of The Mills Brothers has attracted adoring audiences worldwide.

The magic continues unabated today under the leadership of John Mills - son, grandson and nephew of the original group’s members - who recreates the inimitable sounds of The Mills Brothers while vocalizing the multitude of hit songs that made them famous.

John Mills had performed with his father, Donald Mills -- the last surviving original-- since 1982, and now brings to stage the newest generation of The Mills Brothers. The new duo includes and highlights the beautiful voice and compelling stage presence of the talented Elmer Hopper, who spent 21 years with the renowned Platters.

With their impeccable musicology and the priceless charts of The Mills Brothers’ discography of smash recordings, John and Elmer present a singular recreation of music that has been universally embraced by audiences since 1922.

From the first time The Mills Brothers stepped onto a stage at the Mays Opera House in Piqua, Ohio, more than two generations ago, their distinctive sound captured the fancy of audiences, a mystique that continues today.

Honored with a Grammy for Lifetime Achievement in 1998, The Mills Brothers’ harmonies and unmistakable repertoire of hits still symbolize a legendary tradition to a new millennium of audiences.

Among the memorable portfolio of recordings that John and Elmer dramatically present are “Tiger Rag,” the original group’s first hit from 1928, “Cab Driver,” “Glow Worm,” “Lazy River,” “Yellow Bird,” “Basin Street Blues,” “Opus One,” “Paper Doll” and many others.

The parade of Mills Brothers’ recordings continued into the 1990s, when John and his father released their own CD, “Still…There’s You,” a compilation of some of the original group’s greatest songs and new material composed by John.

The number of Mills Brothers records sold is uncountable, certainly well into the many tens of millions. They had a certifiable hit each year between 1935 and 1947, and they kept coming through the mid-1960s with “Cab Driver.”

“Paper Doll” alone sold six million copies in its first release and it was just one of more than 2,000 recordings that produced at least three dozen legitimate hits.

Elmer Hopper

Elmer Hopper spent 21 years with The Platters. In 1974, at the age of nineteen, Elmer was trained personally by Paul Robi, (the baritone of the original group.) He accompanied Paul on an international tour spanning the globe from Japan and China, to Canada and Australia in what was said to be the best ensemble of The Platters since the group’s inception.

Elmer Hopper and Paul Robi were best of friends for more than 15 years until Paul succumbed to cancer in February of 1989. Paul did not leave Elmer without a final message of inspiration. During a visit, just a few days before Paul passed away, he asked Elmer to “…Please continue keeping The Platters legacy alive!” Not long after losing his dear friend and mourning the loss of a great team member, Elmer hit the stage with renewed vigor touring the world with The Platters for the next several years…

…Upon the hospitalization of Donald F. Mills, Sr. of the Mills Brothers, Elmer joined forces with Donald’s son John H. Mills, II, in June of 1999. Forming this newest generation of The Mills Brothers, John and Elmer present a singular recreation of music that has been universally embraced by audiences since 1922.

On tour, John Mills and Elmer Hopper, have combined their unique talents to present the incomparable music of The Mills Brothers in the original keys and with the original scores, embracing an artistic opportunity unparalleled, demanding a high level of vocal musicality and integrity that is rare in this day and age.

Elmer Hopper is a truly gifted singer who says that performing in this show has been extremely gratifying, as there are few endeavors that compare with his prior, illustrious musical achievements.

“Capacity crowds singing along with familiar songs, rising to their feet cheering through multiple standing ovations... there’s nothing like it!”