Frank (William) Mills. Composer, arranger, pianist, singer, b Montreal 27 Jun 1942; associate diploma (McGill) 1965. While studying composition 1961-5 with István Anhalt and Kelsey Jones at McGill University, he wrote two of the university's Red and White revues. He was the pianist 1969-71 with the Montreal pop group The Bells, who are remembered for the hits "Stay Awhile" and "Fly Little White Dove Fly." Under his own name he made five LPs of pop instrumentals 1971-6: Seven of My Songs (Poly 2424-030, which included "Love Me, Love Me Love," a hit in Canada and the US in 1971 with lyrics added and sung by Mills), Reflections of My Childhood (Poly 2424-060), Images d'un Bistro (Sonogram LSG-72001), Frank Mills (Sonogram LSG-72005), and Look at Me Real (Attic LAT-1009).
The second-last, reissued in 1978 as The Poet and I (Poly 2424-170), included the sprightly instrumental Music Box Dancer, a hit single internationally 1978-9. The single was a million-seller in the US, while the LP sold more than 100,000 copies in Canada and, under the new title Music Box Dancer, 500,000 in the US. Versions of the composition were subsequently recorded by Roberto Delgado, James Last, and others, and sales of the sheet music (published by Chappell) exceeded 2 million. Mills' Peter Piper was a second hit in Canada in 1979.
Mills lived briefly in Toronto before moving in 1979 to Nassau. He began touring that year (having previously appeared in concert with The Bells and Anne Murray in the early 1970s) and performed in 1980 and 1982 in Japan. In Canada he has been heard in concerts with his own ensembles and in "pops" settings with symphony orchestras. He has starred in Canadian TV specials - eg, Rocky Mountain Christmas with Frank Mills (CBC TV, 1984) - and appeared on several US TV variety shows. Mills was given PRO Canada's Wm Harold Moon Award for international achievement in 1980 and received Juno Awards in 1980 as composer of the year (for Peter Piper) and in 1980 and 1981 as instrumental artist of the year.
His later albums included Sunday Morning Suite (Poly PD1-6225) and six titles released 1981-8 by Capitol (Prelude to Romance, ST-6488; Rondo, ST-6496; A Special Christmas, ST-6506; Traveller, ST-12388; Transitions, ST 6548; My Piano, C1-91077), as well as the compilations Music Box Dancer (Cap ST-6501, from 1983), Over 60 Minutes with Frank Mills (Cap CDP7-46889, from 1987), and 20th Anniversary Album (Cap S2-80004, from 1989). Sunday Morning Suite, Prelude to Romance, and A Special Christmas exceeded 100,000 copies each in domestic sales. Transitions, with its use of synthesizers, represented a venture into New Age music, but Mills' other albums generally have comprised tunefully conventional, "easy-listening" piano pieces.
While Mills may have passed his commercial peak, he continued to perform and has released and reissued a steady stream of albums and DVDs into the second decade of the new millennium. He published a book titled My Travels with Morley, about sailing around the Bahamas, in 2010.
Gather Round The Piano. 1991. EMI B000065M1L
Homeward. 1994. Macola B000000N45
A Traditional Christmas. 1994. Macola B000000N49
Goes to the Movies. 1997. EMI B00006L65O
Christmas with Frank. 1998. EMI 80022
Our Canada! 2003. Pindoff B000065RP3
A Very Special Christmas with Frank Mills. 2005. Richmond 25
The Music of Frank Mills. 2005. Redline B000A1LF7G (DVD)
Christmas With Frank Mills. 2009. EMI B00008G3CE
The Spirit Of Christmas. 2010. Independent B0049MGIT2 (with Rita MacNeil)