Part actor, part vocalist, part, well, dare I say funny guy? Count Prince Miller is an entertainer extraordinaire and a true Jamaican legend. Born Clarence Linberg Miller in 1935, Count Prince Miller performed on numerous stages in Kingston beginning in the 1950s. He typically performed as part of a larger stage show, appearing with other acts, including Byron Lee & the Dragonaires and Jimmy James & the Vagabonds.
I happened to find an article on Count Prince Miller in the Star Newspaper,in the National Library archives in Kingston last winter and thought I’d share it here. I’ve typed the text below in case your eyes, like mine, are not as good as they used to be! The article is written by Mickey O’Bryan on June 29, 1962.
The demand for music of other nationalities is so popular in Jamaica that our musicians and artistes give little or no thought to the excellent idea of creating and maintaining styles of their own.
Most of them who have tried to accomplish this quality of self-confidence are discouraged by either non-appreciative audiences or economical reasons, which are so commonly known.
Here is a young hero, one who has fought the battle of discouragement, one who has persisted long and hard years of studies: a singer who approached the musical profession with a desired goal and worked honestly and sincerely. He is no other person that Count Prince Miller.
Count Prince Miller, christened Clarence Miller, was born in Port Maria 25 years ago, as a lad attending the elementary school in his hometown, his first desire was to be minister of religion. Seeing the ambition of this lad, his mother encouraged him to take part in all the activities of the local church of God where he was noted for his emotional approach to singing.
After reaching the age of ten, his mother thought it best to take Baby Count to Kingston where he could get an early start on his desired profession.
But the Count changed his mind the moment he landed at his new home at the western side of this city.
In Kingston he was sent to Stewart’s School in the Greenwich Town area. At that school Clarence did well with his lessons but rock ‘n’ roll was getting popular in Jamaica and was also infiltrating into the young man’s blood.
Well in his teens, Clarence decided to try one of Vere Johns’ auditions. He didn’t make the grade but was encouraged by Vere Johns to keep trying. After several weeks studying the lyrics of the current rock ‘n’ roll songs, Clarence decided to form his own group.
In his search, he found vocalists Bobby Weston, Herman Weston, Winston Service, and Howard Butler pianist. He named this group the ‘Downbeats.’ The group was dissolved when the Westons started attending high school and Howard Butler started making appearances on the Northcoast.
Again alone, Count started making his name as a lone-man singer.
‘I can’t bother to imitate the American artists. To do that I would have to sound exactly like the person I am imitating, and that is very hard.’ Those words came from Count when he was asked why he is not a copy cat.
But Count’s own imaginative creation took him to the Edison Club in Toronto, Canada.
In Bermuda, Count Prince Miller’s appearances were so successful at the Eara Club that he was handed a five-week TV contract. Count Prince Miller also made smashing appearances at the Slipper Club in Nassau and the Town Hall in Grand Cayman.
Count Prince Miller is one of our symbols of gaiety. His showmanship has so far been the spark that ignites our social moods.
From the Star Newspaper, May 25, 1962.
In 1969, Count Prince Miller was emcee of the Caribbean Music Festival at Wembley Stadium. Here is the page from the program with a short feature on Miller:
The following is an article that appeared in the Jamaica Gleaner on January 25, 2007:
COUNT PRINCE Miller won the coveted Best Male Actor Award at the 2006 Black Film Makers’ International Awards Ceremony, held recently at the Curzon Theatre
in Piccadilly, London West End, England. He was the lead male actor in the film Winnie and the Duppy Bat, which was written and directed by Annette Laufer. Born Clarence Linberg Miller in the parish of St. Mary, Jamaica, Count Prince Miller is a veteran performer involved in the international entertainment industry for over 50 years. He has previously appeared in several film and television productions, including;
■ The James Bond Original Dr No-1962
■ Kid Creole’s Something Wrong in Paradise – 1984
■ For Queen and Country with Denzel Washington – 1989
■ The Popular B B C situation comedy The Desmonds – 1989-1994
Miller is perhaps best known for his hit recording for the Trojan label, Mule Train Parts One & Two, which was recorded in 1971. In the early 1980s, he re-recorded Mule Train with Sly and Robbie, adding to his popularity as a performer. Mr. Miller resides in the United Kingdom.
As the article above states, Count Prince Miller had a small role in Dr. No, but if you’ve seen it, it’s a memorable one! He is the crazy dancer in the calypso club scene in which Byron Lee & the Dragonaires play.
Here is a still I tried to get from the clip, as well as a link to the clip itself. Count Prince Miller appears at 32 seconds into the clip, and again at 1:19.
See Count Prince Miller perform the beginning of his classic song Mule Train live in 1970 HERE.
Hear the entire song here: Mule Train