Charles Miller (June 2, 1939 - June 14, 1980) was an American musician best known as the saxophonist and flutist for multicultural Californian funk band War and the single person most responsible for the creating of the classic and 1975 #1 hit "Low Rider", on which he also sang the lead part.
Miller was born in Olathe, Kansas, moved with his family to Los Angeles two years later, and eventually settled in Long Beach, California. His father was also a musician who featured with organist Paul Bryant.
Charles was always interested in music, which included his playing of woodwinds, piano, and guitar, as well as within school bands and school orchestras.
In 1967, Charles's interest in music was supplanted until, when at Long Beach City College, he sustained a football injury.
Charles recorded with various groups such as Señor Soul Señor Soul Plays Funky Favorites (1968) and It's Your Thing (1969) on the Double Shot Records. He participated in recording sessions with The Ray Charles Band, and toured with the Debonaires, Brenton Wood, Señor Soul and Afro Blues Quintet + 1.
In the summer of 1969, Charles was in Hollywood at the first "Studio Instrument Rentals" (located on Santa Monica and Vine) when he heard Harold Brown practicing with Howard E. Scott and Papa Dee Allen. He joined and the Night Shift was created.
Charles Miller was performing at the Rag Doll in North Hollywood with the Night Shift, when Eric Burdon and Lee Oskar came into the club. Lee Oskar went to the bandstand and that’s when their distinct sound came together, the blend of his saxophone and Lee Oskar's harp.
Charles Miller’s deep voice is heard on the classic War song, "Low Rider", but he is also credited by many sources as the dominant and initial songwriter of "Low Rider". It was recorded at Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco, California in 1975. The song is sampled by many artists like Flo Rida, who sampled it for his song "G.D.F.R." as well as being heard in movies like Beverly Hills Chihuahua and television shows, being the theme song for the sitcom George Lopez.
In 1980, Charles Miller was stabbed to death in Los Angeles during a botched street robbery. To this day, no one has been arrested or prosecuted for his murder. At the time of his death, he was living in Hollywood with his wife Eddy Miller, daughter Annette, son Donald, daughter Laurian and son Mark.
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