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Through decades of playing with the biggest names in jazz and popular music, Charles J. “Butch” Miles earned the reputation as one of the country’s most dynamic drummers. Miles’s mother lived in Hinton, but he was born in Ironton, Ohio, on July 4, 1944, while she was visiting relatives. He spent his early years in Hinton, but by school age, his parents had moved to Charleston. At age 15, he began studying with veteran drummer Frank Thompson. He honed his style at clubs like the Shallomar and Crazy Horse where out-of-town musicians gathered, and soon he was playing with local dance bands. He studied music at West Virginia State College (now University).

He joined the Iris Bell Trio, one of the area’s most popular groups, and played throughout the eastern United States for a year before settling in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where a two-week engagement at a popular supper club turned into a seven-year stay. From there, Miles’s career took off, from a stint with bandleader Mel Torme to his dream gig with Count Basie. He left Basie’s group in 1979 and formed Jazz Express before signing on with Dave Brubeck. In 1997, Miles rejoined the Basie Band and stayed for a decade.

Miles played and recorded with everyone from Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne and Ella Fitzgerald to Benny Goodman, Tony Bennett and Itzak Pearlman. He appeared in three movies and several television shows, including 60 Minutes, The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, The Merv Griffin Show, The Dick Cavett Show, and The Mike Douglas Show.

In 2007, he retired from the Basie Band and began teaching at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. He was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2011. He died on February 2, 2023, in Austin, Texas, at age 78.

This Article was written by Michael Lipton

Last Revised on February 05, 2023

Cite This Article

Lipton, Michael "Butch Miles." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 05 February 2023. Web. 20 July 2024.


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