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The Mills Brothers

The Mills Brothers, sometimes billed The Four Mills Brothers, and originally known as The Four Kings of Harmony were a Jubilee Quartet. They made more than 2,000 recordings that sold more than 50 million copies and garnered at least three dozen gold records. The Mills Brothers were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998. The group was originally composed of four brothers in a family of nine born in Piqua, Ohio. The group’s members were John C. Jr. (bass vocalist and guitarist), Herbert (tenor), Harry Flood (baritone), and Donald (lead tenor). They began singing in the choir of the Cyrene African Methodist Episcopal Church and in the Park Avenue Baptist Church in Piqua. In 1928, after playing May’s Opera House in Piqua between Rin Tin Tin features, the brothers accompanied the Harold Greenameyer Band to Cincinnati for an audition. They had their own popular radio series in 1932–1933, one of the earliest built around a black act, billed as the “Four Boys and a Guitar”. Before their show announcers commonly explained to listeners that the only instrument was a guitar, as the vocal effects made many listeners think they were hearing a muted trumpet, saxophone, and string bass or tuba. The Mills Brothers’ fiftieth anniversary in show business was celebrated in 1976 with a tribute at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, hosted by Bing Crosby.

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