Posted by themusicsover on June 14, 2010
Charles W. Miller
July 2, 1939 – June 14, 1980
Charles Miller is best remembered as an original member of one of the premier ’70s funk bands, War. Raised in the Los Angeles area, Miller began playing a variety of instruments while still in high school, eventually settling on the saxophone and flute. While in college he began finding local gigs, even landing a recording sessions with Ray Charles and live performances with Brenton Wood. He eventually hooked up with Harold Brown, Papa Dee Allen, and Howard E. Scott and formed a band called Night Shift, which would soon be re-christened War by Eric Burdon and include Lee Oskar. War’s fusion of jazz, funk, R&B and Latin coupled with the raw British vocals of Burdon made a hit out of their 1970 single, “Spill the Wine.” In 1975, the band, sans Burdon, released Why Can’t We Be Friends? which included the Miller sung hit, “Low Rider,” one of the most popular songs to come out of the era. Charles Miller was murdered in a botched robbery just two weeks before his 41st birthday. The crime has never been solved.