Friday May 27, 2005
Keith Miller, who has died, aged 58, following a brain haemorrhage, was an accomplished musician who lived the rock'n'roll life to the full. He shared his talent via his participation in numerous rock and soul bands, as composer, producer and teacher.
Miller played with Rod Stewart in the late 1960s, and co-wrote You Think You're A Man for Divine in the 1980s. A pioneer of the synthesiser in the 1970s and 80s, he worked with Robert Plant, Viv Stanshall, Culture Club, Ultravox, Paul McCartney, Pete Townsend and Rick Wakeman. He was an imaginative producer for many other artists, and his work took in Arthur Louis's 1975 reggae version of Knocking On Heaven's Door, featuring Eric Clapton.
Keith was born in Manchester, and, as a child, was taught piano by his great-aunt Frances, a violinist in the Hallé Orchestra. After winning a scholarship to Manchester Grammar school, he went briefly, in 1964, to All Saints College of Art (now part of Manchester Metropolitan University), before being lured away to become a guitarist with the soul band, St Louis Union.
They were good enough to win the Melody Maker beat group competition in 1965, which led to a record contract with Decca and an appearance in The Ghost Goes Gear (1966) - described by Miller as one of the worst of the swinging 60s films.
After the band split up in 1967, he backed Stewart, played keyboards and guitar with the Birmingham groups Locomotive and the Raymond Froggatt Band, and toured with the Steve Gibbons Band. In the mid-1970s, he moved to London, played a Moog solo with Paul Roberts's Sniff 'N' The Tears on their hit single Driver's Seat (1978) and toured Europe and America with the group.
By the late 1970s, he was taking on more Soho session work and playing the latest synthesisers, especially the complex, hugely expensive Synclavier. It was then that he began programming synthesisers for the likes of Plant, Stanshall and Wakeman.
Miller established his own studio in Muswell Hill, north London. He worked on Star Wars, Chariots Of Fire, Blake's Seven, The Young Ones, Red Dwarf and Playschool. A prolific composer, with television credits including A Many Splintered Thing and Back Home (with Carl Davis), he wrote for organisations ranging from British Airways to Unesco. A lifelong Labour supporter, he turned down a commission for a Conservative party political broadcast. In recent years, somewhat to his own surprise, he developed into an inspiring teacher.
He is survived by his wife Sharon, whom he married in 1978, a daughter and two sons.
Keith Miller, musician, born April 15 1947; died May 17 2005