I go through phases when it comes to music. How many times do I have to listen to "Build Me Up Buttercup" by the Fountains? Dixieland jazz, bop and swing are my escape from having to listen to Hotel California for the 37th year in a row.
Once a year, I go through a Glenn Miller kick. And I'm in one right now. I drive my wife crazy with "Moonlight Serenade" and she is nowhere near to being "In the Mood." I surround myself with everything Glenn Miller. I hunt for new music and I voraciously read anything I can lay my hands on about the swing band trombonist who was born in Iowa in 1904.
I scour the local library and I find a gem or two. Ah yes, the public library. It's the home of free books, free CDs and free movies. All they need is an ice cream bar and I would live there.
But it's the Internet where you find the juicy stuff. Not that Glenn was a harem-keeper while on the road. The opposite is true, from what I have read. But it's how he died that has me wondering what the heck is really going on.
Did I stumble over a nuts website or did someone post a factual account of what really happened to Maj. Alton Glenn Miller during WW II?
In case you don't know who the heck I'm talking about, Glenn Miller was the Beatles of his era. He had 70 Top Ten hits from 1939 to 1943. He toured coast to coast and was heard on a weekly radio show sponsored by those fine folks at Chesterfield. At the height of his popularity, he joined the Army Air Forces and led a band for the troops overseas.
If you haven't seen the "Glenn Miller Story" with Jimmy Stewart and June Allison, you should. It's the best bad movie of all time. And in the end, Jimmy Stewart flies off into a very soupy English sky never to be seen again. And the last shot in the movie is of June Allison weeping to one of Glenn's biggest hits.
But after an Internet query, I'm not so sure that's how the big band leader died.
All I typed into my laptop was "Glenn Miller's Death," and you would not believe the bits of information that came up. Since they never found his plane that supposedly went down in the English Channel during a trip to Paris from an RAF air base, the rumor mill is full of theories about his death.
I followed one of the paths from my search. And I came away with the theory of how Mr. Miller's plane went down in the channel. Reports, now surfacing, claim that it was hit by friendly fire from RAF bomber planes who dropped their remaining bombs into the water after a bombing mission was canceled.
Pretty tame and somewhat plausible I guess when you consider what a 400-pound bomb can do to a small plane like the Norseman. The concussions alone from the bombs exploding in the water would be enough to render the small plane's controls inoperable, even at 1,500 feet. This is my flying nightmare.
Now the other theory is that Glenn was a spy for General Eisenhower. Miller would broadcast from various stops in England and the broadcasts were heard all around Europe. Glenn would give coded messages in German to the German underground who were trying to oust Hitler from inside Germany.
Supposedly, Glenn's plane landed in Paris as scheduled. But while heading to a meeting with Ike, he was captured by secret Nazi infiltrators still remaining in Paris. They questioned him, he was beaten and he was left to die naked on the steps of a famous French brothel.
Wow, that's an amazing story -- if it's true. I guess I'm a purist. I'm going to believe the legend. It's always best to print the legend, so I will carry on the tradition.
So here goes, sport fans: "Ole Glenn Miller" died from a plane crash into the English Channel. He wasn't a spy, nor was he bombed. If it's good enough for Hollywood, it's good for me.
Johnnie Carrier is a freelance writer. What? Benny Goodman, a woman? Find out next week in Band Leader Confidential.