Don Whitney - In His Own Words

Glenn Miller 

" During my last year at junior high school, I became increasingly aware of popular music. One day during the Summer vacation preceding high school, I remember riding my bicycle down to Newtonville Square with the intention of buying my first phonograph record. I wasn't sure what I wanted, but I remember the proprietor of the music shop telling me that Artie Shaw had the most popular band at that point in time, but that Glenn Miller was beginning to come on strong. I settled for Miller's recording of Over the Rainbow, with Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead on the B' side. The record cost 35 cents.

That was the beginning of a life-long interest in dance band music, and a deep devotion to Glenn Miller. My first choice had been the right choice for me. Throughout my high school years, when most other boys were turning their attention toward sports, I was listening to the 920 Club on radio station WORL in Boston, soaking up the music of the big bands. Just about every penny of my allowance went toward big band recordings.

The bands made personal appearances in ballrooms and theaters across the country. My first opportunity to see many of them came through their Boston theater dates. These appearances would alternate with a first run movie on a continuous basis, starting early in the morning and lasting until late at night. A well known band would bring a large crowd, so one of the morning shows provided the best opportunity to get in without having to stand in long lines. The first well known group I remember seeing was the Andrews Sisters, and that was right at the time they were making themselves famous with their big hit, Bei Mir Bist Du Shon . Mother and I went together to the Metropolitan theater to see them.

My burning desire, though, was to see Glenn Miller, and I didn't have to wait long for that band to appear at Keith's RKO theater on Washington Street. Again, Mother and I made the journey to Boston, and I still remember the thrill of hearing the theme, Moonlight Serenade, as the band rose from the orchestra pit. The live music had quite a different sound from what I was used to hearing on the radio or record player in those days before high fidelity, and it was most impressive. I would later get to see most of the big name bands at their theater appearances in Boston.

Glenn Miller had a radio program three times a week, sponsored by Chesterfield cigarettes. They would appear of Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10:00 to 10:15 PM. From the time I latched on to Miller in 1939, until Glenn broke up the band to join the Army Air Force in the Fall of 1942, I missed very few of those broadcasts. Toward the end, the band also had a sustaining broadcast on Saturday afternoons from 5:00 to 6:00 PM on NBC's Blue Network, and I remember going to the top floor of the Bradford Hotel in to see the broadcast though the large glass studio window. For reasons I never understood, we were the only ones there. It was a great opportunity to see the band up close. "

Dad's note to me on his recollections of Glenn Miller Songs (pdf file)

Dad meets Tex Beneke - Sept 1967

Check out this Big Band Website from England

Pete King graciously has allowed the posting an article Tex Beneke/ Glenn Miller Don Whitney Recollctions and photos.
It was published in the Sept 2008 Big Band Buddies International Magazine.

Contact Pete King for more info and visit his websites:

Other Excerpts:
Notes from his Dad
Being sent to Camp
Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard
Glenn Miller
Asbury Park
Harvard Days / Remembering Jack Lemmon
The Totem Pole
Engagement to Jan
Starting at AO as an Apprentice Lens Designer
Why Dick was once named David



Full Autobiography:
Download Complete Autobiography (Zip file of 360 k, in PDF format)

Nov 8, 2008 - Southbridge United Way/Lions Club event draws 200+

Updated on Nov 10, 2008

Return to Whitney Home Page