|Wednesday, 18 March 2009 11:45|
Gordon William Mills
Born: May 15, 1935
Died: July 29, 1986
Cause of death: Stomach cancer
Notable because: Manager of Tom Woodward who he renamed Tom Jones and gambled his all on breaking him in Vegas, where he went on to become very successful. Owned the worlds largest private zoo. Produced Gilbert O Sullivans 'Claire' written for Mill's infant daughter whose giggle is heard on the track. Ironically O Sullivan sued for financial irregularity and won 7 Million pounds against Mills.
Gordon Mills was a London based songwriter and manager, whom although born in Madras, India, grew up in South Wales. Mills was regarded as one of the more successful managers in the British music industry in London.
Mills' success began in the 1950s. He also wrote hit singles in the 1960s, recorded by some of the more successful singers known. Mills' own album, Do It Yourself was recorded, but never released. Some of his songs were later recorded by Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck.
Mills began playing the harmonica, taught to him by his mother Lorna, (Gordon was her only child). His parents had met and married in India, when his father was there working in the British Army. They returned to Britain shortly after Gordon's birth.
At fifteen, Gordon joined his first group, playing in the local pubs and clubs in the South Wales Valleys. Then at the age of seventeen Mills was called up for National Service, left his then home town of Tonypandy in the Rhondda Valley and served in Germany and Malaya.
Upon his return, he read in a music magazine that Hohner were staging a British Championship at the Royal Albert Hall in London. He came second up and he went on to Europe to represent the UK. He won the championship and upon his return was asked to join the Morton Fraser Harmonica Gang where he met Don Paul and Ronnie Wells. Together they formed a trio known as The Viscounts. They achieved some fame for the song "Who Put the Bomp (In The Bomp, Bomp, Bomp)" which was a minor hit in the UK Singles Chart.
The Viscounts achieved some success with their cover of "Short'nin' Bread".
Mills wrote some songs, with his first "I'll Never Get Over You", recorded by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, reaching number 4 in 1963. 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 a Top 10 success in 1964.
Mills met Jo Waring at a party given by Terry Dene. They married two years later.
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. Mills gave other pop music stars their stage names, such as Engelbert Humperdinck (born Arnold George Dorsey), and Gilbert O'Sullivan (born Raymond Edward O'Sullivan).
Mills got the newly named Tom Jones a recording contract with Decca and although Jones first single Chills and Fever was not a hit Decca gave them another chance and Jones had a go at a song turned down by Adam Faith the song was It's Not Unusual which propelled him into the top reaches of the charts, Mills wanted to break Jones into recording film soundtracks but after the relative failure of the James Bond theme song Thunderball another approach was needed. A solid song was needed as Jones's chart placings had begun slipping; Jones loved the song "Green Green Grass of Home" and had ideas to record it. Mills envisioned it differently and it went on to become one of Jones's signature tunes. The next step was to break Jones into Vegas; Mills gambled everything on this and it paid off. Jones became one of the biggest attractions in Vegas, making Mills one of the most important people in the music industry. At this time MAM records was the biggest and most powerful record company in the United Kingdom.
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 the biggest stars in the world under his control both in his own image. Jones was Mills sexual side and Humperdinck was his sophistication. By 1973 however both Jones and Humperdincks 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 not in any commercial projects. MAM was taken over by Chrysilis without the record company it was back to being Mills and Jones.
After Mills' death, "It's Not Unusual" was re-released and Tom Jones found himself back in the chart.
Another interesting fact is that Mills owned the biggest private zoo in the World, the previous record owner millionaire playboy John Aspinal belonged to the same gentlemans club as Mills and there was a clear rivalry between them.
Mills also produced Gilbert O'Sullivan, particularly on the song "Clair". However, things later turned sour, as O'Sullivan discovered his recording contract with MAM Records greatly favoured the label's owner. A litigation followed, with prolonged argument over how much money his songs had earned and how much of that money he had actually received. Eventually the court found in O'Sullivan's favor, awarding him seven million pounds sterling in damages.
Mills died of stomach cancer in 1986, at the age of 51
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 March 2009 11:55|