But Miller was not entirely unsympathetic to rock ‘n’ roll, or to the counterculture. In 1969, he attended a massive demonstration in Washington against the Vietnam War. In a 1955 essay in The New York Times magazine, he said the popularity of rhythm and blues, as he called it, with white teens was part of young people’s “natural desire not to conform, a need to be rebellious.”
He added: “There is a steady _ and healthy _ breaking down of color barriers in the United States; perhaps the rhythm-and-blues rage _ I am only theorizing _ is another expression of it.”
“Miller has often been maligned as a maestro of 1950s schlock … Yet Miller injected elements of rhythm and blues and country music, however diluted, into mainstream pop,” Ken Emerson wrote in his book “Always Magic in the Air.”
In the Martin Scorsese documentary on Bob Dylan, “No Direction Home,” Miller acknowledged that he was dubious when famed producer John Hammond brought the nearly unknown Dylan to the staid Columbia label in the early ‘60s. “He was singing in, you know, this rough-edged voice,” Miller said. “I will admit I didn’t see the greatness of it.” But he said he respected Hammond’s track record in finding talent.
Miller’s square reputation in the post-rock era brought his name and music to unexpected places. In 1993, one of his “Sing Along” records was used by the FBI to drive out the Branch Davidian cult from its Waco, Texas compound.
In recent years, Miller returned to his classical roots, appearing frequently as a guest conductor with symphony orchestras.
In 2000, he won a special Grammy Award for lifetime achievement.
Reuther said her father died of “just old age.”
“He was absolutely himself up until the minute he got sick,” she said. “He was truly blessed with a long and wonderful life.”
Miller was born in 1911, in Rochester, N.Y., son of a Russian Jewish immigrant wrought-iron worker and a seamstress. He graduated from the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester.
Reuther said there will be a memorial service for her father in the fall.
Associated Press Writer David Bauder and AP National Writer Hillel Italie contributed to this report. Biographical material in this story was written by former AP staffer Polly Anderson.