Millinder, Lucky (actually, Lucius Venable)

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Millinder, Lucky (actually, Lucius Venable)

Millinder, Lucky (actually, Lucius Venable), jazz/R&B bandleader; b. Anniston, Ala., Aug. 8, 1900; d. N.Y., Sept. 28, 1966. He was a big-band leader of the 1930s and 1940s, whose bands spawned Sweets Edison, Tab Smith, Bill Doggett, Wynonie Harris, and countless others. Raised in Chicago, Millinder worked as a master of ceremonies at various ballrooms and clubs in his early 20s. He fronted a band for a tour of R.K.O. circuit in 1931; the following spring, he took over the leadership of “Doc” Crawford’s Big Band and led it at the Harlem Uproar House, N.Y. In June 1933 he took different personnel to Europe and played residencies in Monte Carlo and Paris before returning to N.Y. that October. During the following year he began fronting the Mills Blue Rhythm Band, which subsequently worked under his name. He continued leading the group until the spring of 1938, then toured fronting Bill Doggett’s Band, taking the group to NewYork. However, in September 1939, the band went bankrupt. Millinder reformed a band in September 1940 and continued leading a big band on and off until the summer of 1952; he then left full-time music and worked as a salesman for a spirit distillery. Later he reorganized bands for stints at the Apollo, N.Y., and various tours, but was also active as a disc jockey on radio WNEW and as a publicist and fortuneteller. In later years he occasionally fronted bands for specific engagements. His band played the soundtracks for the films Paradise in Harlem (1939) and Boarding House Blues (1948).


Lucky Days (1941); Lucky Millinder & His Orch. (1942); Lei It Roll (1972).

—John Chilton Who’s who of Jazz/Lewis Porter

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Millinder, Lucky (actually, Lucius Venable)

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