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Oklahoma music star Jody Miller has died at 80

Jody Miller
Jody Miller

Jody Miller, a country and pop star in the 1960s and 1970s, died Thursday in her hometown of Blanchard, Okla. She was 80 years old.

Miller scored six top 10 country hits, beginning with what would become her signature song, "Queen of the House," in 1965. The song was a response to "King of the Road" by fellow Oklahoma musician Roger Miller — no relation.

"Queen of the House" earned her a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance the following year, only the second such award given out at the Grammys.

Born Myrna Miller in Phoenix, Arizona, she moved to Blanchard, Okla. when she was eight years old. There, she became interested in music.

"One day I discovered Mario Lanza singing "La Donna [e] Mobile." That to this day was the greatest song and singing I had ever heard. I played that record over and over, learning every word phonetically," said Miller in her online biography. "That is when I realized that I would be a singer. I was bitten."

She started playing piano, ukulele and guitar, and formed a trio with other high school girls, singing hit songs by the McGuire Sisters. She also sang folk songs in coffee houses, like The Jester in Norman, before heading to California. There, she sang at clubs like The Troubadour and met other young performers like Glen Campbell and Hoyt Axton.

Another Oklahoman — actor Dale Robertson — heard Miller sing and introduced her to Capitol Records, who would sign her and release her first five records.

Besides "Queen of the House," Miller landed top 10 country hits with "He’s So Fine," "Baby I’m Yours," "There’s a Party Goin’ On," "Good News" and "Darling, You Can Always Come Back Home." In all, she landed 27 singles on the Billboard Hot Country chart.

Miller played live shows with everyone from The Beach Boys to Bob Hope and Don Rickles to Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass. She toured all over the world, including shows in England, Italy, Japan and The Philippines.

Miller would also dabble in the genres of pop, rock and gospel music. She retired from touring in the 1980s to spend time with her family and manage her husband’s quarter horse breeding and training business in Blanchard.

She was inducted into the Country Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in 2018.

Her hometown of Blanchard named a street after her — Jody Miller Ave. — in 2015, and in late 2021, Blanchard High School broke ground on the Jody Miller Performing Arts Center, a 43,000-square-foot facility that features a 1,000-seat theater.

Miller’s official Facebook page confirmed she died from complications related to Parkinson’s Disease. She was 80.

Ryan LaCroix is the Director of Content and Audience Development for KOSU.
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