Just as The Beatles were releasing their new "White Album" in late 1968, Mrs. Mills was touring Canada and the USA with several other acts from the British Isles. All of this ... an extravaganza ... under the banner "The Greatest British Variety Show".
The acts included David Whitfield, Billy Dainty, The Taitums, Billy Meek and Anne Shelton. These artists were also supported by The Carlton Showband as well as by Ken Stanley And His Orchestra.
This was Mrs. Mills one and only tour of North America to my knowledge ... and what a thrill it must have been for "Gladys" to get across the pond and see just how many fans she had.
Mrs. Mills had sold thousands of Capitol 6000 Series LPs during the 1960s and had quite a following in Canada that included many British ex-pats.
The tour dates included the major cities across Canada as well as some cool USA dates in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. What a gas it would have been to see Mrs. Mills and her piano in live performance !
Mrs. Mills was very well known in England and recorded many albums with her distinctive Honky Tonk Piano sound. So distinctive was it that the piano she always used at Abbey Road Studios was renamed "the Mrs Mills piano" amongst the personnel. It was used on many late Beatles recordings and is still used today!
This piano was a 1905 Steinway Vertegrand piano (an upright piano). It was built at the Hamburg Steinway factory and was shipped to London in 1905. Abbey Road apparently payed £404 for the instrument in 1953, a lot of money then. The piano then still had a "normal" piano sound, and only in the late 50s did sound engineer Stuart Eltham have the piano modified by a Steinway technician to achieve an older sound. The felt hammers were hardened with lacquer in order for them to emulate the sound of a tack piano.
This piano was used on a lot of Beatles sessions starting in their "middle period". It can be heard prominently on Penny Lane (track 2 of the 4 track tape on take 6), With A little Help From My Friends (track 1 of the 4 track tape on take 10), The Fool on The Hill (overdubs on track 4 of the 4 track tape on take 5) and the end of Tomorrow Never Knows (on track 3 of the 4 track tape)
Actually, although many speculated that Lady Madonna featured this piano, it turned out it wasn't. Performance tests pointed towards the "Steinway Grand Piano" with Heavy Compression and EQ.
For extensive details on the Mrs Mills piano and other studio equipement used during Beatles sessions, please read the hard work of Kevin Ryan and Brian Kehew called "Recording The Beatles" HERE
Mrs Mills reached the climax of her fame around the same time The Beatles did. She was originally recruited by a talent scout, and had made a name for herself by 1962. She was then signed to a management contract by the same person who managed The Dave Clark Five and The Rolling Stones (Eric Easton). She was then signed to Parlophone, and therefore was issued on the Capitol 6000 Series in Canada. Her work consisted of Honky Tonk piano versions of standard British and international hits as well as covers of contemporary hits.
Mrs. Mills was so popular in Canada that she toured across Canada (with her family in tow! ) in the late 1960s. She must have been so surprised by her popularity and success in Canada. In the 1960s in Canada, her records sold in quantities that neared the popularity of Herb Alpert. That is why you come across so many copies of her LPs in the used record shops and bargain bins at the charity shops across Canada nowadays. She was a big seller for Capitol records Of Canada during the 1960s and many of her LPs were re-issued in the 1970s. God Bless her!
Mrs Mills died on February 24, 1978.
|(S)T-6024||Mrs. Mills w/ Geoff Love||Plays The Roaring Twenties|
|Sleeve date: January 1963 - No dot on top seem.|
|(S)T-6055||Mrs. Mills w/ Geoff Love||Everybody’s Welcome At Mrs. Mills Party|
|Sleeve date: February 1964 / EMI Vault date: February 3, 1964 - Rainbow, heavy shrink wrap with one inch seem, brown/white inner. Rre-issued later in stereo-only on the red target and orange labels.|
|(S)T-6082||Mrs. Mills & Russ Conway||Let’s Have A Party|
|Sleeve date: September 1964 / EMI Vault date: September 8, 1964|
|T-6094||Mrs. Mills||It’s Party Time|
| EMI Vault date: November 2, 1964. |
This is the orange label 1970s reissue
|(S)T-6151||Mrs. Mills w/ Geoff Love||Another Party With Mrs. Mills!|
|Sleeve date: December 1965 / EMI Vault date: December 3, 1965|
|(S)T-6175||Mrs. Mills||Especially For You|
|Sleeve date: May 1966 / EMI Vault date: May 2, 1966 - Capitol’s vault records only show a MONO release; later ST re-issue on Olive green label|
|ST-6280||Mrs. Mills||Summer Party|
|EMI Vault date: June 3, 1968 - Rainbow label|
|ST-6308||Mrs. Mills||16 Party Pieces|
|EMI Vault date: January 13, 1969 - Olive green label Rlater re-issued on the red target label and then the darker green label as SN-66038 and listed then as «A CAPITAL RE-ISSUE»|
|ST-6317||Mrs. Mills||Back To The Roaring 20s With Mrs. Mills|
|EMI Vault date: November 3, 1969 - Olive green label, later Orange reissue|
|ST-6381||Mrs. Mills||Music Hall Party|
|EMI Vault date: September 1972 - Red target label. Later re-issue on orange label|
|ST-6411||Mrs. Mills||Non Stop Honky Tonk Piano|
|EMI Vault date: October 1974 - Brown EMI label|
|ST-6427||Mrs. Mills||Hollywood Party|
|EMI Vault date: February 10, 1975 - Brown EMI label|
|Capitol 72033||Mrs Mills||Medley - Ma He’s Makin Eyes, Baby Face, Swanee, Ain’t She Sweet|
|Capitol 72338||Mrs Mills||Newsboy / Someone Like You|