Lucky Millinder


Lucius Venable "Lucky" Millinder (August 8, 1910[1][2] – September 28, 1966)[3] was an American rhythm-and-blues and swing bandleader. Although he could not read or write music, did not play an instrument and rarely sang, his showmanship and musical taste made his bands successful.[4] His group was said to have been the greatest big band to play rhythm and blues,[5] and gave work to a number of musicians who later became influential at the dawn of the rock and roll era. He was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1986.

Millinder was born Lucius Venables[1] in Anniston, Alabama, United States.[4] He took the surname Millinder as a child,[1] and was raised in Chicago.[4] In the 1920s, he worked in clubs, ballrooms, and theatres in Chicago as a master of ceremonies and dancer. He first fronted a band in 1931 for an RKO theater tour, and in 1932 took over the leadership of Doc Crawford's orchestra in Harlem. He also freelanced elsewhere.

In 1933, he took a band to Europe, playing residencies in Monte Carlo and Paris.[4] He returned to New York to take over the leadership of the Mills Blue Rhythm Band, which included Henry "Red" Allen, Charlie Shavers, Harry "Sweets" Edison and J. C. Higginbotham, and which had a regular slot at The Cotton Club.