Tom Miller - Bio
Born in Hialeah, Florida on Oct. 5, 1965, Tom Miller was named and adopted two days later by Nathan Anderson Miller and Alfreda Rowena Reed Miller. Tom lived with his parents and his Aunt, Alice Miriam Reed, who was a piano teacher and the organist for her Church. Alice was very influential in Miller's early interest in music, and Miller could be found at age 3 playing songs on the house piano. Miller's sister, adopted from a different family than Miller's, is Gwenna Lou Miller Bowers.
Tom used to listen to the many records in his Aunt Alice's collection, mostly classical, and was known to pick up various Beethoven compositions by ear. He also listened to Alice's collection of old comedy classics which helped to inspire an interest in performance. He was given an electric guitar by his parents and often jammed with his friends in garage bands. When Miller was 15, his sister convinced him to enroll in acting school with the legendary "First Lady of Florida Theater", Ruth Foreman. Tom Worked in television and dozens of commercials and stayed working as an actor and sound/light tech under the wing of Ruth Foreman for more than five years, and credits Foreman with activating his muse to perform on the stage.
In 1976, Tom purchased his first album; an eight track tape by Parliament called, The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein. It remains a favorite of his to this day. Other early influences included Jimi Hendrix, The Archies (A recording used for the cartoon that his sister used to play all the time), and strangely enough, Cher (Another of his sister's obsessions). When Tom's parents took him to see the musical performance of Beatlemania, he was blown away by the music. He had his father buy the cast recording. Later, when he finally heard the actual Beatles recordings, he was inspired to make recordings of his own. Particularly, he was inspired by bassist Paul McCartney (and his solo album, McCartney), to take up the electric bass and make multi-track recordings. At the time, multi-track recording (where one musician plays and sings all the parts of a song by tracking one instrument over another) was a rare thing indeed. It seemed at the time only McCartney and Stevie Wonder stood out among a rare few for such a recording technique. Miller's first four-track recorder was a TEAC Model 2, which cost over $10,000. Miller, self-admittedly, "conned" his father into the purchase. Over time and with additional conning as the years went by, Miller acquired new and better audio tools. He became absorbed with multi-track recording equipment, and the process of recording. Tom Miller evolved into a low tech old school studio rat with a penchant for what he affectionately refers to as his "rinky dink" style of composition and audio engineering.
Tom Miller recorded his first 45 record when he was 15 at Criteria Recording Studios in Miami with engineer, Chuck KirkPatrick. He sang and over-dubbed all the instruments himself. The A side was called, "The Underground" and the B side was called, "Playin' Games". Miller also arranged, wrote and recorded several hundred songs on his own, in his bedroom. He would often play the recordings for his father who was known for the phrase, "It's good... for what it is."
In his first year of high school, Miller met his long time friend and collaborator Charles McWhorter. He and McWhorter formed a duo and began to make recordings, with Miller writing and recording the music and McWhorter writing lyrics and singing. They were later joined by guitarist John Williford and formed a band called Penguin. All the members of Penguin were contributing equally to the song writing and recording process, with McWhorter stepping out on keyboards and musical content. This union, with other musicians falling in and out of the group, was to last for a decade in which 5 official albums were released. Miller refers to this period of his career as, "Music College - the Master's Program." Miller met a girlfriend toward the end of the Penguin experience to whom he now refers to as, "The Platypus". During a painful band breakup as Tom prepared to move to Gainesville, Florida, she threw master tapes containing hundreds of Miller and Penguin recordings into a dumpster. During this time, Tom also collaborated with his high school friend Don Traub, a guitarist and songwriter. With the vocal talents of front man Bruce Samut (From Malta) and lyricist Ulrico Font, the band Middle Earth was formed. Middle Earth rehearsed intensively for two years and played only two shows at the end of that time: a house party which was shut down by the police department, and a performance in the town square gazebo before an enthusiastic regatta festival crowd of several thousand people. Shortly thereafter, Middle Earth disbanded due to... "creative differences."
Arriving in late 1984 in Gainesville, Florida, where Miller attended music classes at Santa Fe Community College (most of which he failed), he met up with members of a band called Plastic Age and became their bass player. Plastic Age performed for several years. It was at this time Miller met long time friend and collaborator, "Ron" who is, among many other professions and vocations, the Executive Director of Miller's FREDInk label. "Ron" also maintains an archive of all of Miller's known recordings, writings, and artworks. As a photographer, "Ron" has archived thousands of pictures of Miller's career in Gainesville, spanning almost two decades. After several years in Gainesville, Miller took an abrupt leave of absence to return to Miami in an effort to rekindle Penguin. Penguin reformed for a brief period of two years, while Plastic age broke up in Gainesville. He never told the Plastic Age members he was leaving. Miller refers to this incident as an early mid-life crisis.
When Miller left Penguin to return to Gainesville, (Miller's 2nd early mid-life crisis), he formed an alliance with ex-Plastic Age frontman, Robert Johnson. The two put together Gainesville's innovative 80s bands The Screaming Helens and Speed Queen. Miller left Speed Queen, much to Johnson's dismay, to play bass in the popular Gainesville band, NDolphin. He spent the next several years touring and performing with NDolphin. The band often performed with the River Phoenix fronted group, Aleka's Attic, and more often than not, played to sellout crowds. NDolphin, because of "creative differences", broke up, despite being on the cusp of a recording contract offer from Sony. Fed up with music, Tom turned his focus on a new venture... live performance art.
For the next decade, Miller helmed his bizarre, self-centered talent shows, The Tom Miller Show and The Perpetual Motion Church (in which Tom became an ordained minister). His shows featured a variety of high talent and no talent... often populated with drag queens, unfunny comedians, clinically insane people, punk musicians, and women who easily bared their breasts. Miller scandalized Gainesville with his outspoken criticism of government, a naked press conference, paintings featuring the Chief of Police as Elvis, art and media events, an unhealthy preoccupation with UFO research, and a decade of hosting Gainesville's hemp fests. Miller ran a highly publicized campaign to become a Gainesville City Commissioner and, in the process, dished the dirt on the then Mayor to such an extent that the conservative official was never elected to office again.
During this time, Tom also focused on his writings and poetry and became a member of Christy Scheffield Sanford's Gainesville Poets and Writers group. Miller struck up a close friendship with the gifted poet and writer, James Valvis, who helped Miller to hone his writing craft and publish nationally in many various magazines of the independent press. It would not be uncommon to see Miller at Gainesville venues screaming and spitting poetry to an enthusiastic crowd of coffee house drunks. The audience could easily relate to Miller because Miller was also a coffee house drunk.
When the Tom Miller Show found its home at a venue called the Common Grounds Coffee House, the success of the show peaked. Many feature articles about Miller and his performance art were published in the local media. It is at this coffee house that Miller booked a comedian called, "The Nurse from Hell". Little did Miller know at the time, "The Nurse from Hell" was also a ferocious guitar player and singer who was passionately committed to the music of the blues. His name was Vini Demon. Demon and Miller struck up a friendship and worked together on the performance art shows until one day, Demon asked Miller if he'd like to jam sometime. Miller, whos interest in musical endeavors was on the wane took him up on the offer. Soon after, Tom and Vini were joined by the co-owner of Common Grounds, Joe Basilone and harmonica player Skibo Demon. Miller had known Skibo for years and had booked him on occasion at his performance art shows. With the addition of Reggie Johnson on the drums, Vini and the Demons went into rehearsal. They performed their debut show at Common Grounds on October 29, 1999.
Shortly thereafter, Johnson was dropped for... "creative differences." After auditioning several new drummers, it was agreed that Evil Evan Demon was the only one for the task at hand, due to his deep rooted musical passion knowledge, and his tasteful command of the trap set. Over the next three years, the band performed in venues ranging from Miami's Tobacco Road to Atlanta's Fat Matt's Rib Shack. The Demons took Gainesville by storm and were frequently covered in the media wherever they went. They simultaneously terrorized and inspired audiences with their ear shattering volumes, Jack Daniel's infused, deep rooted "Demonized" blues standards and originals, and their refusal to accept (for themselves and on behalf of all musicians) mistreatment or undercompensation. Miller became obsessed, and then finally captured by the spirit of the blues. He followed a course of events that seemed set for him all along. It was at this time that Vini and the Demons met Muddy Waters' daughter, Ros Morganfield. She became a fan of the band and said of the Demons, "You are taking my father's music to a whole new level."
When Bo Diddley and Vini Demon had a chance meeting in a music store, and when Bo later made a surprise appearance singing and performing with the Demons, Miller sold his soul to the blues. Partly encouraged by Bo Diddley and Ros Morganfield, Miller and his bandmates left Gainesville and their former lives behind and moved as a band to Chicago in October of 2001, the beginning of a long cold Winter. Vini and the Demons completed their mission to evangelize the blues to their ever growing legion of fans and supporters through 2005. During that time, Miller had the privilege of performing with many of the world's blues greats including Bo Diddley, Steve Bell, Shirli Dixon, Phil Guy, Chico Banks, Lindsey Alexander, Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues, Carlos Johnson, Sharon Lewis, Harmonica Hinds, Sugar Blue, Harmonica Kahn, Eddy Clearwater, Little Arthur Duncan, Eddie Taylor, Jr., Larry Taylor, and blues singer and entertainer, Tommy McCracken.
CURRENTLY: Tom Miller lives in Gainesville, Florida where he is the host and Director of "The Tom Miller Show". The Tom Miller Show is the longest running variety show in Gainesville. During it's most recent run at the Shamrock Irish Restaurant & Pub, Miller had the distinction of generating the largest bar tab in the history of Gainesville.
The last incarnation of the Tom Miller Show was a 4 Episode Television Show examining Gainesville's politics, characters, arts, music, and nightlife. This "live" television show, was co-produced and co-directed by Gainesville Performance Artist and Musician, frog. MILLERVISION ran Consecutive Mondays from March 19th to June 4th of 2007 at the Shamrock Irish Restaurant & Pub.
Miller has to his credit over 40 books of published poetry and short stories, paintings and works of art too numerous to mention, over 40 CD albums of solo material which he refers to as, "AudioArt" (on the FREDInk label) along with numerous recordings with many other artists' for which he was producer. Miller also has over one-hundred Art "Videofilms" which he directed and/or starred in including, Womp (Co-Directed with Shawn Spencer), Dance Theory - The Master's Class, Cold, Return of Gootis (Co-Directed with Shawn Spencer), The Miller & Pearl Show, Ring the Bell Gently Sweet Frog, A Great American Movie I, II, III & IV(Co-Directed with Don Traub), The Outdoor Billy Bob Johnson Show, Good Morning, The Tom Miller Show - Live on TV, The 5 Minute Artist Presents Series, and MILLERVISION. Tom Miller is listed in Wikipedia, and was voted one of the 20 most interesting people in Gainesville by Insite Magazine. Miller recordings, videos, and artwork can only be purchased by way of the FREDInk Website Or directly fromTom Miller.
Tom Miller plays bass as his alter ego, Slam Gunther in the 60s revival band, Charles Ray and the Righteous Kind.