Piano man

Long­time record­ing artist to per­form at CEC on Oct. 30


Frank Mills, best known for the hit ‘Mu­sic Box Dancer,’ will make a stop in Truro this month dur­ing an At­lantic Cana­dian tour.

It’s back to At­lantic Canada this fall for pian­ist Frank Mills, who says he looks for­ward to re­turn­ing to the re­gion, with a 12date tour, from Oct. 23 to Nov. 7, in­clud­ing six shows in Nova Sco­tia.

Mills will per­form at Truro’s Cobe­quid Ed­u­ca­tional Cen­tre Oct. 30, at 7 p.m. He also has shows lined up in Wolfville, Yar­mouth, Hal­i­fax, Pic­tou and Port Hawkesbury.

“An au­tumn tour in the Mar­itime prov­inces is as good as it gets, for many rea­sons,” Mills said. “You don’t have to travel far from one place to the other ... and the peo­ple are won­der­ful.”

Best known for Mu­sic Box Dancer – a tune that be­came a huge hit for Mills in the late 1970s, reach­ing num­ber three on the Bill­board Hot 100 and earn­ing him a Grammy award nom­i­na­tion – Mills says semi-re­tired is a good way to de­scribe him now.

“I guess you could say that,” he said. “I’m not writ­ing any­more, and that was al­ways the im­pe­tus for these tours, get­ting the mu­sic out and per­form­ing it.”

In a tele­phone in­ter­view from Stowe, Ver­mont, where he has lived for al­most 15 years, the 75-year-old Mills said the last song he wrote was What­ever Hap­pened to Christ­mas, which he penned five years ago for Rita MacNeil.

His most re­cent al­bum, from a cou­ple of years back, is a col­lec­tion of ear­lier record­ings that were dig­i­tally re­mas­tered.

“It’s called Af­ter the Dancer,” he said, “and it’s the story of my life af­ter Mu­sic Box Dancer.”

In the up­com­ing At­lantic Canada shows Mills will play Mu­sic Box Dancer but it is not on that CD.”

Mills says he never tires of of play­ing the tune for which he is most fa­mous be­cause so many peo­ple like it so much.

A Mon­treal na­tive, Mills was a mem­ber of the Bells for a cou­ple of years be­fore start­ing his solo ca­reer. He played on Stay Awhile, the group’s big­gest hit.

“We had a lot of fun to­gether,” he said. “In fact, I learned a lot about record­ing from Bells mem­ber Cliff Ed­wards.”

Years later, Mills re­leased a sin­gle whose A side was a ro­man­tic bal­lad called The Poet and Me. Then, a call from an DJ ac­quain­tance in Ot­tawa.

“He phoned me and said ‘I can’t play the bal­lad, I’m in a rock sta­tion’ but he said ‘that catchy tune on the B side, I’m go­ing to play it and see what hap­pens.’ So he did and the rest is his­tory.”

The “catchy tune,” of course, was Mu­sic Box Dancer. It has been de­scribed as ar­guably one of the most rec­og­niz­able melodies ever, for which Mills is grate­ful. He ad­mits the tune’s suc­cess caught ev­ery­one off guard.

“No­body in the band liked it,” he said, laugh­ing at the mem­ory. “No­body wanted to play it.”

Nearly four decades since the sin­gle’s re­lease, Mills can look back on a ca­reer that in­cludes over two dozen al­bums, three Junos and a lot of song­writ­ing awards. But he’s also look­ing ahead, look­ing for­ward to bring­ing his mu­sic back to the At­lantic re­gion.

“I love it down there,” he said. “Peo­ple are easy go­ing. It’s a great tour.”


Frank Mills has been en­ter­tain­ing au­di­ences at the piano for decades and will per­form at the CEC in Truro, Oct. 30.

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