Born McKinley James Millet, Jr., 25 Oct. 1935, New Orleans, Louisiana
McKinley ("Mac") Millet started his career in music at the age of ten in 1945, playing pop hits with his brothers before a jazz gig by Edgar Blanchard's Gondoliers. In 1952 or 1953 he was a founding members of the Hawketts, but he left this group before they had a chance to record. His replacement (both as a vocalist and pianist) was Art Neville, who sings lead on the Hawketts' only release, the perennial Carnival favourite "Mardi Gras Mambo" (Chess 1591). Millet then formed Li'l Millet and the Creoles, who were heard by Bumps Blackwell at a club in Thibodaux, Louisiana. Blackwell gave them a contract with Specialty Records and also signed the group's trombone player, Edgar "Big Boy" Myles (formerly of the Sha-Weez) as a singer in his own right. There was a session at Cosimo's J&M Studios on September, 1955, with Edgar Myles (vocals, trombone), McKinley "Li'l" Millet (vocals, bass), Lee Allen (tenor sax), Ernest Mare (guitar), Bartholomew Smith (drums), James Victor Lewis (tenor sax) and Warren Myles (piano), the brother of "Big Boy" Miles. Four tracks were recorded under the supervision of Bumps Blackwell, resulting in two singles, both of which were released in November 1955. "Who's Been Fooling You" / "That Girl I Married" was credited to "Big Boy Myles and the Shaw-Weez" (Specialty 564) and "Rich Woman"/"Hopeless Love" was issued as by "Li'l Millet and His Creoles" (Specialty 565). "Rich Woman" (which Rick Coleman has called a "minor master- piece") was co-written by Millet and Dorothy LaBostrie, of "Tutti Frutti" fame. It was later recorded by Canned Heat and the Fabulous Thunderbirds.
With Bumps Blackwell, Millet co-wrote Little Richard's rock 'n' roll anthem "All Around the World". Millet's rather tame demo version can be heard on the CD "Creole Kings Of New Orleans, Vol. 2" (Specialty SPCD 7038 / Ace 477).
There was another Specialty session for Millet on October 29, 1956, this time with accompaniment from Cosimo's Studio Band (Lee Allen, Alvin Tyler, Edward Frank, Earl Palmer, and probably Frank Fields and Justin Adams). The result was one of my all-time favourites, the romping "Rock Around the Clock", but for some inscrutable reason, Art Rupe did not judge this track worthy of release. As a consequence, we had to wait until 1986 to hear the song, when "Rock Around the Clock" (not the Bill Haley tune) was included on the LP "Lay That New Orleans Rock 'n' Roll Down" (Specialty SP 2167). An alternate version has been released on both "Specialty Rock 'n' Roll" (Ace 291, 1990) and "Jivin' Jamboree 2" (Ace 706, 1999) and though that one isn't bad either, it lacks the uninhibited excitement of the 1986 LP version.
Not much was heard of Millet after 1956. According to Rick Coleman, in his sleeve notes for the 1986 LP, he was still performing on occasion in New Orleans in the 1980s.
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