Dale Miller, Acoustic Guitarist
Picture Bottom Left Picture Bottom Right
Dale Miller Biography Dale Miller Biography Dale Miller Biography Dale Miller Publications Links from Dale Miller's site Links from Dale Miller's site Dale Miller's gigs Information for Guitarists
spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer
  • 1950s
  • 1960s
  • 1970s
  • 1980s
  • 1990s
  • 2000s
  • 2010s
photo of Dale in the hippie days

Dale Miller was born in Washington, D.C. in 1944 to Dale and Scooter Miller, two transplanted Texans. He developed a love of music as a toddler when Dale, Sr. would sing him and his younger brother Mead to sleep with cowboy songs and pop tunes from the 1920s and 1930s. Dale Sr. would also sing around the house and while driving. Eventually, he wrote a tune for Dale's older sister Marta when she made her "debut". The first song Dale, Jr. remembers learning to sing was the Eddie Fisher hit Oh My Papa.

In 1954 Dale's older sister Marta, like most girls of her generation, became enamored with Elvis Presley. She led Dale into Rock & Roll. His first record purchase was the 45 Yes It's Me and I'm in Love Again by Fats Domino. Soon his record collection included Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps, Elvis, The Everly Brothers and Jimmy Reed. His parents bought him a snare drum and he began to bang along to these tunes. He also spent time listening to his father's collection of classical 78s and watching shows like Your Hit Parade on the new medium of television.

Late in the decade his sister came home with an LP of The Kingston Trio. White Rock and Roll was in a down phase at the time and the simplicity and sincerity of Folk Music resonated with young Dale. Folk led him to Dixieland Jazz and he also listened to R&B and Gospel on the radio in a city that was and is predominately Afro-American (though strongly segregated at the time).

photo of Dale in the hippie days

In the fall of 1960 Miller entered the New Mexico Military Institute where he eventually took up guitar, inspired by Peter, Paul and Mary and Bob Dylan. After graduating Junior College in 1964, Miller spent the summer working at the New York World's Fair and living in Greenwich Village where he realized that it was possible to live an alternative life style. Around this time he discovered the recordings of John Fahey, the principal figure in establishing the steel string guitar as a solo concert instrument. He began to work towards playing solo guitar tunes.

Over the next two years, as a student at the University of Texas, Miller fell in with the rich musical scene in Austin. Musicians he jammed with, listened to and/or learned from included: Lightnin' Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb, Janis Joplin, Toad Andrews, Allen Damron, Bill Moss, Bill Neeley, Kenny Threadgill, Powell St. John, Kerry Rush and The 13th Floor Elevators. He played at the ID Coffeehouse. He listened to all types of recorded music and studied method books by Stefan Grossman, Happy Traum and others.

During the summers he practiced with his brother Mead, who learned to play blues harmonica. One summer they formed a jug band called Juan Valdez and His Rich Columbian Has Beans which performed at a live on the air WAVA hootenanny.

Late in the decade Miller spent two years in Chimbote, Peru as a Peace Corps Volunteer. With evenings free and little social life he was able to practice guitar up to four hours an evening. Upon his return Miller took a few private lessons from the brilliant Washington, D.C. guitarist Dave Parker. Then he moved to Utah as a Vista volunteer helping migrant farm workers. In the winter as the decade ended he moved in with U. Utah Phillips in Salt Lake City.

photo of Dale in the hippie days

Early in the 1970s Miller studied music theory with Bill Fowler at The University of Utah. He began to arrange Jazz standards, Beatles songs, Ragtime tunes and other types of music for solo guitar. Soon after he hitch-hiked out to San Francisco where he played in various small coffeehouses while working day jobs including teaching English at Berlitz and clerking and teaching guitar at Acoustic Music.

In 1972 he took a six month trip to Europe and Northern Africa. In Rome he hooked up with Stefan Grossman and recorded a few solo guitar tunes which were included on Contemporary Ragtime Guitar, an LP on the newly created Kicking Mule Records. Miller soon became the best selling American based artist for that small but influential company, founded by Grossman and ED Denson.

Miller toured internationally throughout the rest of the decade, playing at colleges, folk clubs and folk festivals. He recorded three solo LPs for Kicking Mule and was included on the anthology I Got Rhythm. He also produced LPs by Duck Baker and Nick Katzman. He jammed and/or shared the stage with many artists including Elizabeth Cotten, John Renbourn, Tom Rush, John Jackson, Tracy Nelson, Mimi Fariña, Leon Redbone and Gatemouth Brown.

photo of Dale from 2002

In 1980 Miller stopped touring and settled in San Francisco. He continued to play locally and drive a cab during the days. He married Terry Helbush in 1983 and moved to Oakland, Ca. Two years later he became one third owner of Noe Valley Music, a small guitar shop in San Francisco. Within a few months he was able to quit the cab job. As this was happening he learned to play slide guitar, which brought back the joys he had when first learning to play.

Most of Miller's musical gigs in this period continued to be as a soloist but he also played some duet venues with other guitarists such as Amos Garrett, Danny Kalb, and Roy Rogers. He spent a year playing slide guitar with Chester D. and the Blue Shadows. He was a regular instructor at ED Denson's Eel River Music Camp. He also taught lessons, wrote articles for Acoustic Guitar Magazine and dabbled in concert promotion, mostly as a way to meet musicians and singers he had always respected but hadn't met such as Fahey, Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Robbie Basho.

He bought his first computer in the middle of the decade and soon began spending time "chatting" on The Welland exchanging email with his few friends who had accounts. He was especially excited to be able to manage his mailing list and do word processing. A couple of students who were programmers offered to swap their knowledge for lessons and Miller eventually wrote a guitar tablature program for MS DOS in Pascal. In the early years of the decade he became a near fanatical bike rider. Later he and his wife became first time home owners in Berkeley, Ca. At this same time he got involved in cooking, which soon became a favorite passtime which he continues today.

photo of Dale with his cat

Early in the 1990s Miller founded Dale Miller Productions. He combined his skills as an accompanist with his lead chops on slide to create the CD Both of Me, a recording of over-dubbed duets of jazz standards. He teamed up with two singers during the decade - Kaeiti O'Ghara and Alison Faith Levy.

In 1996 Fantasy Records re-released Miller's 1974 LP Fingerpicking Rags and Other Delights. Fantasy also contracted Miller to produce a compilation CD which became Guitarist / Composer Sampler. These releases along with the purchase of Music Writing Software re-inspired his solo guitar arranging. He re-learned some forgotten arrangements and began to transcribe new material.

Miller's hours at the store decreased. He became more and more interested in computers. For three years he had a day job as a computer systems administrator at a small law firm. He eased out when the job grew to over 20 hours a week.

He registered dalemiller.com and developed the first simple version of this web site. He continued to write articles.

Late in the decade he and his wife moved to a new home farther from public transportaion giving them an excuse to buy a 1978 Porsche 9ll SC, a car Miller had lusted after for decades.

photo of Dale from 2002

In 2000 Miller left Noe Valley Music. He began to adapt, arrange, learn and record solo guitar versions of opera arias. The result was the 2001 CD Azzurro Verdi, Arias for Solo Blues Guitar. Also in 2001 John Calvin of Moonset recorded Miller's composition Butano Lullabye on the CD Wherever We Sing. In 2002 Dale Miller Productions released Stars Fell, an EP Length CD featuring Alison Faith Levy with Miller on solo guitar accompaniment.

In 2005 Teja Gerken recorded a great version of Miller's composition Noe Valley Sunday on his CD Postcards. The next year Miller recorded a tune for The Revenge of Blind Joe Death: The John Fahey Tribute Album. Soon after he bought home recording equipment and composed and recorded a soundtrack for a short film profiling Woman Inc. In 2007 tunes from Azzurro Verdi were used for the sound track of the instructional DVD Beginning Watercolor Journaling.

In April of 2008 Miller released the CD Time Goes By with updated arrangements of some of his "hits" from the 1970s. In the closing months of 2009 Stefan Grossman's Guitar Workshop re-released Contemporary Ragtime Guitar on CD.

He continued to refine his web designing skills throughout the decade, learning Dreamweaver and Flash. From 2006 to 2009 he was a board member of the Berkeley Path Wanderers Association.

photo of Dale from 2002

Today Miller and his wife continue to live in Berkeley, California with their cat Judy and dog Koz-B. He continues to jam, transcribe music, write articles, record and gig.

Miller's other activities include listening to his iPod and maintaining this web site. He is also a volunteer reading coach at Oxford Elementary School and a fan of the San Francisco Giants, University of Texas Football and the San Francisco Opera.

He continues to enjoy cooking. He occasionally leads walks and writes articles for the Berkeley Path Wanderers Association newsletter. He has become an avid Facebook user where he has hooked up with old and new friends throughout the world - mostly, but not all, musicians. He has also created a channel on YouTube.

Stefan Grossmans Guitar Workshop has re-released I Got Rhythm, an anthology LP that included Miller. Around the same time Dale Miller Productions released an early 1980s duet with Duck Baker for download from iTunes and other sites.

In 2012, Miller's brother Mead Miller after a bout with cancer. Here is a brief video from the 2000s featuring the Miller brothers.