LifeNotes: Singer-Songwriter Ned Miller Passes

Ned Miller

Ned Miller

The death of country singer-songwriter Ned Miller was announced this week by his widow and sometime cowriter Sue Miller.

Ned Miller was 90 years old. His renown rests on such copyrights as “From a Jack to a King,” “Dark Moon,” “Do What You Do Do Well” and “Invisible Tears.”

Born Henry Ned Miller and raised in Salt Lake City, the singer-songwriter wrote his first songs at age 16 and began performing on local radio stations. He served as a U.S. Marine in the Pacific Theater during World War II. He returned to radio in Vernal, Utah after the war.

With dreams of making it as a songwriter, Miller moved to California in 1956. The following year, pop star Gale Storm had a big hit with his “Dark Moon.” Bonnie Guitar took the same song up the country hit parade. Guitar’s follow-up 1957 single was “Mister Fire Eyes,” which she and Miller cowrote.

Miller began his own recording career that same year. His breakthrough hit came with “From a Jack to a King” in late 1962. It crossed over to become a pop as well as a country hit. It was also a sizable success in England. In 1964, he and his wife cowrote his country hit “Invisible Tears.” The Ray Conniff Singers covered the song for the pop marketplace.

In 1965, his self-penned “Do What You Do Do Well” became another Top 10 country hit for Ned Miller. Ernest Tubb also had a hit with this song in the same year.

Ned Miller continued to chart with self-penned songs throughout the rest of the decade. But he never enthusiastically embraced life as a performer because he suffered from stage fright. He quit recording in 1970.

Success as a writer continued. Sonny James enjoyed a three-week No. 1 with Ned and Sue Miller’s “Behind the Tear” in 1965. Hank Thompson had a 1971 hit with Miller’s “Next Time I Fall in Love (I Won’t).”

Other country stars who recorded his songs include Porter Wagoner, Johnny & Joanie Mosby, Jean Shepard, Connie Smith, Wanda Jackson, Faron Young, Slim Whitman, Red Simpson, Jim Reeves, Charley Pride, Waylon Jennings, Jimmy Dickens, Bobby Bare, Marty Robbins, Lynn Anderson, Loretta Lynn and Hank Snow. His material has been covered by such pop performers as Bing Crosby, Bobby Darin, Kay Starr, Les Brown, Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Pat Boone, Teresa Brewer and Doug Sahm.

In 1989, Ricky Van Shelton revived “From a Jack to a King” and took it to No. 1 on the country charts. Chris Isaak brought back “Dark Moon” in 1993.

Miller passed away on March 18 in Medford, Oregon. He is survived by his wife; sister Bonnie Powell; daughters Lynda, Karen, Rhonda and Leslie; son Jack; nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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