Gordon Mills

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Gordon Mills
BornGordon William Mills
(1935-05-15)May 15, 1935
Madras, India
DiedJuly 29, 1986(1986-07-29) (aged 51)
Los Angeles, California, United States
 
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Gordon Mills
BornGordon William Mills
(1935-05-15)May 15, 1935
Madras, India
DiedJuly 29, 1986(1986-07-29) (aged 51)
Los Angeles, California, United States

Gordon William Mills (15 May 1935 – 29 July 1986)[1] was a successful London based music industry manager and songwriter who was born in Madras, India[1] and grew up in Trealaw[2] in the Rhondda Valley, South Wales. He managed the careers of eminent vocalists Engelbert Humperdinck and Tom Jones, and co-wrote (with Les Reed) Jones's signature song, "It's Not Unusual".[3]

Biography[edit]

Mills's parents met and married in India when his father was serving in the British Army. They returned to Britain shortly after Gordon's birth.[1] An only child, Mills was taught to play the harmonica by his mother, Lorna.

At age 15, Mills joined a group playing in pubs and clubs in the South Wales Valleys. At age 17, he was called up for National Service and served in Germany and Malaya.[1]

Returning to the UK, he competed in a harmonica championship event organised by Hohner at the Royal Albert Hall in London. He came second, qualifying him to represent the UK in the European final which he then won. Invited to join the Morton Fraser Harmonica Gang, he met musicians Don Paul and Ronnie Wells with whom he formed a trio known as The Viscounts.[1] One song "Who Put the Bomp (In The Bomp, Bomp, Bomp)" (1961) became a minor hit in the UK Singles Chart. Their cover of "Short'nin' Bread" (1960) also had some earlier success.[4]

Mills wrote some songs, with his first "I'll Never Get Over You", recorded by Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, reaching No. 4 in the UK in 1963.[1][5] In the space of a year he wrote three more hits "Hungry For Love", "Jealous Girl" and "Three Little Words". "I'm The Lonely One" gave Cliff Richard and The Shadows a Top 10 success in 1964.[6]

At a party given by singer Terry Dene, Mills met model Jo Waring and they married two years later.[2] Their daughter Clair, then three years old, became the subject of a 1972 song by Gilbert O'Sullivan.

One night Mills was in Cwmtillery, where Tommy Scott and the Senators were performing, featuring a new young singer with the name of Tom Woodward. Mills became Woodward's manager, and took the young singer to London. He also renamed him Tom Jones.[1] Mills gave other pop music stars their stage names, such as Engelbert Humperdinck, and Gilbert O'Sullivan.[1]

Mills got the newly named Tom Jones a recording contract with Decca, and although Jones first single "Chills and Fever" released in late 1964 was not a hit, Decca gave them another chance and Jones had a go at a song turned down by Sandie Shaw. The song was "It's Not Unusual" which propelled him into the top reaches of the chart.[1][7] Mills then wanted to break Jones into recording film soundtracks but, after the relative failure of the James Bond theme song "Thunderball" (UK No. 35),[7] another approach was needed.

Mills redesigned the singer's image into that of a crooner. Jones also began to sing material that appealed to a wider audience such as the big country hit "Green, Green Grass of Home". The strategy worked and Jones returned to the top of the charts in the United Kingdom and began hitting the Top 40 again in the United States. For the remainder of the decade he scored a string of hits on both sides of the Atlantic.[8][9][10] In 1967 Jones performed in Las Vegas for the first time, at the Flamingo.[11]

At this time MAM Records was one of the biggest and most powerful record company in the United Kingdom.[12]

In 1965 Mills started working with Gerry Dorsey, a singer who had been around for a long time without major success, changing his name to Engelbert Humperdinck and with television exposure on a Sunday night in 1967 at the London Palladium a new star was born. Between 1967 and 1972, Mills had two of the biggest stars in the music industry under his control. By 1973 however, both Jones's and Humperdinck's record sales had dropped dramatically, but Mills had found new talent with Gilbert O'Sullivan who kept MAM as the biggest record company. But when his success started to fade there was no replacement. By 1978 Jones was reduced to making country albums for the American-only market, Humperdinck had left Mills and O'Sullivan was no longer commercially successful. MAM was taken over by Chrysalis Records.[citation needed]

Mills also produced Gilbert O'Sullivan, most notably on the song "Clair". Things turned more sour when O'Sullivan discovered his recording contract with MAM Records greatly favoured the label's owner. A lawsuit followed, with prolonged argument over how much money his songs had earned and how much of that money he had actually received.[13] Eventually, in May 1982, the court found in O'Sullivan's favour, describing him as a "patently honest and decent man", who had not received a just proportion of the vast income his songs had generated.[13] They awarded him £7 million in damages.

Mills owned the biggest private zoo in the world. The previous record holder, millionaire playboy John Aspinall, belonged to the same gentlemen's club as Mills and there was a clear rivalry between them.[citation needed]

Mills died of stomach cancer in 1986, at the age of 51 and is buried in Burvale Cemetery, Hersham.[14]

After Mills' death, "It's Not Unusual" was re-released and, in 1987, Jones was back in the chart.[7]

Notable songs written or co-written by Mills[edit]

Gordon Mills Jr.[edit]

Gordon Mills' namesake son found some success with Strange Nature and is now a record producer, songwriter and multi-instrument session musician.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Eder, Bruce. "Gordon Mills - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  2. ^ a b Dave Edwards (2008-04-30). "Remembering a musical great". Walesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  3. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. "It's Not Unusual - Tom Jones : Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  4. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 588. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  5. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 301. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  6. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 461. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 289/90. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  8. ^ "Tom Jones". Nostalgiacentral.com. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  9. ^ "Tom Jones". Nndb.com. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  10. ^ Pore-Lee-Dunn Productions. "Tom Jones". Classicbands.com. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  11. ^ "BBC Wales - Music - Tom Jones - Tom Jones biography - part three". Bbc.co.uk. 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  12. ^ "The Elmbridge Hundred | Gordon William Mills". Elmbridgemuseum.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  13. ^ a b Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 149. ISBN 0-85112-250-7. 
  14. ^ "Gordon Mills (1935 - 1986) - Find A Grave Memorial". Findagrave.com. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  15. ^ "A Little You - Freddie & the Dreamers, Gerry & the Pacemakers : Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  16. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 213. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  17. ^ a b c "Tom Jones - A-tom-ic Jones (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  18. ^ a b c d e "Tom Jones - What's New Pussycat? (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  19. ^ Thomas, Stephen. "A-Tom-IC Jones - Tom Jones : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  20. ^ "High Time - Paul Jones : Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  21. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 289. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  22. ^ "Searchers, The - Sugar And Spice (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  23. ^ "Tom Jones - Green, Green Grass Of Home / If I Had You (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  24. ^ "Fortunes, The - You've Got Your Troubles (Vinyl, LP) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  25. ^ "Johnny Kidd And The Pirates* - I'll Never Get Over You (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  26. ^ "Tom Jones - Funny, Familiar, Forgotten Feeling (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  27. ^ "I'm the Lonely One - Cliff Richard : Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  28. ^ a b "Tom Jones - Along Came Jones (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  29. ^ "Lady Godiva - Peter & Gordon : Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  30. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 424. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  31. ^ "Tom Jones - Not Responsible / Once There Was A Time (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  32. ^ "Engelbert Humperdinck - Am I That Easy To Forget / Pretty Ribbons (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  33. ^ "Tom Jones - Delilah / Smile Away Your Blues (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  34. ^ "Tom Jones - With These Hands (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  35. ^ Campbell, Al (2004-01-13). "Greatest Love Songs - Engelbert Humperdinck : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  36. ^ "Ten Guitars - Engelbert Humperdinck : Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  37. ^ "Tom Jones - I'm Coming Home / The Lonely One (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  38. ^ "Tom Jones - I'll Never Fall In Love Again / Things I Wanna Do (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  39. ^ "Applejacks, The - Three Little Words (I Love You) (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  40. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 27. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 

External links[edit]