J. D. "Jay" Miller: American musician (1922 - 1996)
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J. D. "Jay" Miller
American musician

J. D. "Jay" Miller

J. D. "Jay" Miller
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American musician
A.K.A. Joseph Denton "Jay" Miller
Was Record producer Musician Songwriter
From United States of America
Field Business Music
Gender male
Birth 5 May 1922, Iota
Death 23 March 1996, Lafayette (aged 73 years)
The details (from wikipedia)


Joseph Denton "Jay" Miller (May 5, 1922 – March 23, 1996) was an American record producer, musician and songwriter from Crowley, Louisiana whose Cajun, swamp blues, and swamp pop recordings made an impact on American popular culture.


Miller was born in Iota, Louisiana on May 5, 1922, and spent many childhood years in El Campo, Texas. He lived most of his life in Crowley, where in the late 1930s he played guitar with several Cajun bands, including Joseph Falcon and His Silver Bell Band, the Four Aces, the Rice City Ramblers, and the Daylight Creepers. In 1946, he began to record Cajun musicians using a studio belonging to producer Cosimo Matassa of New Orleans. In 1946, his new label, Fais Do Do Records, recorded most notably the string band, Happy, Doc, and the Boys (Happy Fats and Oran "Doc" Guidry). After a few records, in 1947, he changed his label name to Feature Records, which recorded Cajun musicians such as Amidie Breaux, Aldus Roger, Austin Pete and a variety of other country musicians. Later, Miller would create and record for smaller labels for different genres of music: Rocko Records(originally Rocket), Zynn Records, Showtime Records, Rebel Records, Kajun Records, Cajun Classics, Blues Unlimited, Swade, Excello, Spot, Action, Kay, Ringo, Tribute, and French "Hits".

In the 1950s he began to record swamp pop artists, including King Karl, Guitar Gable, Warren Storm, Rod Bernard, and Johnnie Allan, among others. In 1952, Miller wrote the lyrics to "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" (an answer song to the recent Hank Thompson hit "The Wild Side of Life"). The song, as recorded by Kitty Wells, became gold and stayed #1 for several weeks.

Around this time he also began to record swamp blues artists such as Lightnin' Slim, Lazy Lester, Lonesome Sundown and Slim Harpo. It was Miller who produced Harpo's "I'm a King Bee" and "Rainin' In My Heart," significant swamp blues recordings later covered respectively by The Rolling Stones and Neil Young. From 1962 to 1965, Miller also recorded sides by Silas Hogan, before Miller argued with the new owners of the Excello Records label, and his input to that label dried up.

Miller's recording studio attracted a handful of mainstream recording artists, including Paul Simon and John Fogerty. Simon, for example, used the studio to record "That Was Your Mother," a track from his acclaimed Graceland album, while Fogerty traveled to Crowley to record a cover of zydeco musician Rockin' Sidney's "My Toot Toot." His songwriting credits included, "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels."

Although he claimed to be a segregationist, Miller nonetheless used interracial studio bands during the Jim Crow era, when black and white musicians in the South were not permitted to mingle onstage or elsewhere in public. He professed to enjoy African-American blues music more than any other musical genre, and he wrote blues songs under the pseudonym "Jay West" (a name he used to disguise his race). Yet in the 1960s he also produced and released several racist recordings on his own Reb Rebel label, most notably those of Johnny Rebel (pseudonym of local Cajun/country musician Clifford "Pee Wee" Trahan). Today, compact discs of Miller's racist recordings can be found for sale on various racist and hate group web sites.

Miller died in Crowley, on March 23, 1996, after complications following quadruple bypass surgery. The Jay D. Miller Award, granted by the Louisiana Blues Hall of Fame, is named for him.

Recorded songs

Songs by Miller, covered by other artists:

  • "I Made A Big Mistake" - covered by Iry LeJeune.
  • "Diggy Liggy Lo" - covered by Doug Kershaw and many others.
  • "I Hear You Knocking" - covered by Dwight Yoakam and The Fabulous Thunderbirds.
  • "I'm A Lover Not A Fighter" - covered by The Kinks

Compilation discography

  • Acadian All Star Special: The Pioneering Cajun Recordings of J.D. Miller (BCD 17206-1/2/3 CK Bear Family Records, 2011)

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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