The Victoria-born country star, now 77, had a stellar career in the fifties and sixties that is all but forgotten—but his emergence from retirement, along with a deluxe box set, Blackland Farmer: The Complete Starday Recordings, and More (Bear Family) may just change that.
Jeff McCord: You were born in Victoria, is that correct?
Frankie Miller: Yes, Victoria, Texas.
JM: In 1930?
FM: ’30, and grew up there. Was there for twenty … let’s see. I guess 22 years. Twenty-one years, I went to the Army.
JM: At what point did you start playing music, I understand your parents were not musicians, but your brother was.
FM: Yeah, my brother was, he was a musician, and he taught me how to play the guitar, and I started learning the guitar when I was in high school, I think, my senior year—junior year, maybe. High school.
JM: Do you recall when you had your first band, were you out of high school by then?
FM: Yes, it was the year I graduated, I formed my first band in Victoria, and we played—I was going to college there in Victoria, and we played for the college dances and played at all the local joints.
JM: When did you get your first break? What got you out of Victoria and made you decide that this is what you wanted to do as a career?
FM: I got my first recording contract when I was, I think I was 19 years old. With a company out on the coast called Four Star Records. And that happened through Houston through a man there in Houston had a record distributing center. Harold “Pappy” Dailey was his name. he was the real good friend of George Jones, his kind of mentor. And he sent some stuff off for me to Four Star, and they gave me a contract, and I’ve been in ever since.
JM: Now Pappy’s got a bit of a reputation, I know. Did you get along with him?
FM: Oh yeah. He was always a friend of mine, Pappy was. I recorded for Four Star, and then later on he signed me up to United Artists Records. When George went to United Artists, we was doing a show and he was there.
JM: And Pappy was one of the founders of Starday Records as well, was he not?
FM: Yeah, he was, he was one of the founders and later on I went to Starday, I was with Starday, I don’t know, 11 or 12 years I think it was.
JM: So you got this contract with Four Star when you were 19, and you made some sides with them, I know that Bear Family Records has released some of those, not so long ago.
JM: Yeah. What happened with those records, were