Mrs Mills, pub party pianist extraordinaire – we salute you!

Mrs Mills, pub pianist extraordinaire - we salute you!Mrs Mills was discovered while working as the superintendent of the typing pool in the Paymaster General’s office in London in the early 60s.

Her catchy piano style and jolly, happy-go-lucky personality won over a talent scout who saw her performing at a Woodford Golf Club dance near her Essex home in Loughton in December 1961.

After signing a management contract to Eric Easton (who later managed The Dave Clark Five and The Rolling Stones), Mrs Mills was snapped up by the Beatles’ record label Parlophone.

Mrs Mills Medley

Her first single  – “Mrs Mills Medley” – entered the UK Top Twenty, and was a piano medley of the songs, “I Want to Be Happy,” “The Sheik of Araby,” “Baby Face,” “Somebody Stole My Gal,” “Ma He’s Making Eyes at Me,” “Swanee,” “Ain’t She Sweet,” and “California Here I Come.”

The song reached number 18 in the charts and was the first piano medley to bother the Top 20 since Russ Conway’s Christmas ivory-tinkler in 1959.

Mrs Mills, pub pianist extraordinaire - we salute you!Gladys Mills (née Gladys Jordan) then embarked on a career that lasted well into the 1970s, with her jaunty pub piano renditions of popular and traditional songs like, “The Lambeth Walk,”  “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”, “Hello, Dolly!”, “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” and “Yellow Submarine” making her a hit all around the country,

A feast of albums

Over the following 15 years, Mrs Mills banged out nearly 40 albums (all recorded at Abbey Road Studios), with four charting in the U.K. between 1964 and 1971, all during the Christmas period.

Mrs Mills didn’t take herself too seriously, a fact evidenced by some of the bonkers album sleeves, which showed her in all sorts of strange outfits and locations,

One had her riding a miniature rocking horse and another saw her feeding fruit to an elephant on a hillside.

The most successful album of all was, “Come to My Party”, which peaked at number 17 in 1964. And yes, I have a vinyl copy and it’s ace (thanks, Nicola!).

Mrs Mills, pub pianist extraordinaire - we salute you!

Paaaaatry!

Mrs Mills was all about fun, having a laugh and letting everyone join in. Her music harked back to music halls, communal singalongs, the wartime spirit and evenings by a roaring fire in smoky, boozy pubs.

This was a woman who liked to party and party she did, as some of her album titles testify:

Mrs Mills, pub pianist extraordinaire - we salute you!Everybody’s Welcome at Mrs Mills’ Party
It’s Party Time!
Mrs Mills’ Party
Everybody’s Welcome at Mrs Mills’ Party
Come To My Party
Let’s Have Another Party
Summer Party
Party Pieces
Party Mixture
Bumper Bundle Party
Music Hall Party
Anytime Is Party Time
Another Flippin’ Party
Hollywood Party
It’s Party Time Again

Mrs Mills died on February 24, 1978.

Here’s a few reminders of her unique talent:

Mrs Mills on the Morecambe and Wise show, 10th October 1971

After a bit of jovial joshing with the comic maestros, Mrs Mills gets stuck into a top medley of songs including, “Ain’t That a Grand and Glorious Feeling,” “Yes Sir that’s My Baby,” “Powder Your Face With Sunshine”  and “My Old Man Said Follow The Van.”

This is Your Life

Finally, Mrs Mills on ‘This Is Your Life,’ screened on 24/12/1974, less than four years before her death:

UPDATE: The Mrs Mills Experience band is going on the road!

I’ve managed to find a team of musicians who love Mrs Mills as much as me, and we’re going to be playing festivals and gigs in the summer of 2012. Check out the webpage for news and updates – and come along and see us! We’ll have tap dancers, go-go dancers and, of course, loads of Mrs Mills big hits: http://mrsmills.org/

 

Mrs Mills: more info

Buy The Very Best of Mrs. Mills on Amazon for just £4!

Born: August 29, 1918, Beckton, East London, England
Died: February 24, 1978

[Feature on Mrs Mills]
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