Stanley Mills, part of the successful Mills Music family publishing dynasty that popularized the “Chicken Dance” as a wedding and party classic, died Dec. 29 at a New Hyde Park, NY, hospital. He was 91 years old.
Mills was the son of famed music publisher Jack Mills, who had a golden ear for signing the likes of Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Leroy Anderson, and others as their singing careers flourished in the 1920s and ’30s.
Stanley Mills was born in 1931 and went into the family business in New York. He remained with the company for two years after Mills Music was sold to EMI Music Publishing in 1964. He worked for another music publisher, EB Marks, for a few years before striking out on his own. in 1968 with the launch of September Music and Galahad. Music.
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According to the Mills family obituary:
“Mills built his catalog from the ground up, song by song, through relationships with songwriters he worked with over the years, such as Paul Evans and Paul Parnes (“Happiness Is”) and Arthur Kent and Sylvia Dee (“End Of The. World”). Back then, songwriters used to go from publisher to publisher, literally across the hall, trying to get a deal. Music like “My Melody Of Love” and ” Darlin” by Bobby Vinton recorded by David Rogers, Tom Jones and Bonnie Raitt – perhaps his most famous contribution to American and world popular music. song of all time, “The Chicken Dance.”
Mills promoted this dark and joyous polka, which was intended to be accompanied by large groups of people dancing like chickens, shaking their arms, tails and arms. Mills saw the fun it caused at weddings and the like, and spent years diligently promoting the music for film, television and commercials. By the 1990s, the “Chicken Dance” had achieved critical mass, as noted in a 2001 Wall Street Journal front page article.
Mills sold his publishers to Memory Lane Music in 2015. He was a board member of the National Music Publishers Association and the Harry Fox Agency for 30 years.
She is survived by her sons Kenneth Mills, of Plantation, Florida, and Mitchell Mills, Woodmere, New York. He is survived by his nephew Joshua Mills, a music manager and publicist in Los Angeles; Peter Alpert and Trish Alpert, of Long Island; and five children.