Bill Miller was born on January 1, 1943, and grew up on Cleveland's east side, where he was exposed to blues, jazz, and rock and roll at an early age, and developed a special interest in the blues.
He bought his first harmonica at Jack Epstein's music store on Prospect Avenue.
The first Mr. Stress band debuted in 1966, and by 1968 the band was playing in other cities as well as Cleveland. The band shared the stage with many top rock bands such as Cream. Capitol Records offered the band a contract in 1969 which the band turned down due to the deal's unfavorable terms.
By the 70's, The Mr. Stress Blues Band had found a home at The Euclid Tavern near Case Western Reserve University. During this decade, Mr. Stress was one of only a few local acts playing blues. The band remained a fixture at The Euclid Tavern for 17 years.
The Mr. Stress Band, which featured many of the area's finest blues talent during its time is no more, but as of the date of this award, Bill is still very active on the Cleveland blues scene as a featured performer with The Alan Greene Band.
1983- Named one of Cleveland Magazine's "Most Interesting People"
Mr. Stress Blues Band selected Best Blues Band in Northeast Ohio 4 years in a row
LIVE AT THE EUCLID TAVERN
William John Miller was born a few seconds past midnight, on January first, 1943. As was the custom at that time, the next day’s Cleveland Plain Dealer featured a photo and a story featuring baby Bill and his mother, the first recorded birth in Cleveland, in that difficult wartime year.
Bill’s dad was a sometime theatrical agent, promoter and violinist who frequently brought musicians into the home and first sparked Bill with the lure of show business.
By no means wealthy, Bill grew up in the integrated neighborhoods of Cleveland’s near-East side. Bill’s parents divorced when he was two, and for a while, he lived at the Catholic Children’s Home in Parma.
Bill’s first musical obsession was with New Orleans jazz. He took up clarinet, and started hanging out in Cleveland’s jazz clubs.
In the mid-fifties, when Bill was growing up, local radio stations would play blues records as part of their regular programming. Bill heard songs by Slim Harpo, Muddy Waters, and Bobby Bland. An interest in the blues was already percolating beneath the surface.
In 1965, Bill heard the first album by the groundbreaking Butterfield Blues Band. He had already begun fooling with the harmonica, and now his course was set.
The Mr. Stress Blues Band was formed in 1966. The term “Mr. Stress”, derives from a code used in psychiatric hospitals to announce that a patient has become out of control and needs to be subdued. The band’s first official gig was at the Coffee House at E.115th and Euclid. Though the Coffee House didn’t last long, The band would spend many years performing within 100 yards of that spot.
In 1972 the band began what was to become a six year gig at the Brick Cottage. In 1978, they moved a few yards up Euclid Avenue to the Euclid Tavern, where they held court for 19 more years.
For over thirty years, Bill’s bands provided a training ground for musicians from the Cleveland area, many of whom have gone on to national and even world-wide prominence.
In recent years, Bill has curtailed his activity due to macular degeneration, an increasing loss of sight, that has left him unable to drive. Currently he perform as a featured member of Alan Greene’s band .
Recently, Bill has told friends he plans to retire, after nearly 45 in the music business.