UPDATE 11/14: The New York Times confirms details of Miller’s passing, and notes, “Billy Miller, a rock ’n’ roll archivist and collector whose record label, Norton, gave new life to forgotten rockabilly artists and garage bands of yesteryear, died on Sunday at his home in Brooklyn. He was 62. The cause was complications of multiple myeloma, kidney failure and diabetes, his wife and business partner, Miriam Linna, said.”
Kicks just keep getting harder to find….
By Fred Mills
This news has yet to be completely confirmed by the record label, but reports are coming in that Billy Miller, mover and shaker behind mighty indie roots/soul label Norton (not to mention the late great Kicks fanzine, and rockin’ outfits the Zantees and the A-Bones), has passed away. According to a post at the Steve Hoffman music forums, “Miriam Linna, his wife and co owner with him of the great Norton Records label/mail order company has just announced this terrible news. Way too young.” There’s also word about his death posted on his Facebook timeline as well as a brief note by Linna at her Facebook page. I presume an official announcement will be made shortly.
Miller had been in poor health. According to a post from Linna about a year ago, “Billy has been dealing with complications from Multiple Myeloma, including kidney failure. He has been in and out of the hospital several times during the past year, and has been on chemotherapy and dialysis.”
Needless to say, this is very sad news for everyone in the music world, and particularly in the record business. Norton is one of the greats, with Billy and Miriam founding it many years ago and going on to help usher in a new era of appreciation for vintage rockabily, rock, and soul. I’ve heard Billy described as “Lux Interior’s little brother,” with Miriam being “Ivy’s little sister”. Kindred spirits indeed – Miriam was the original drummer for the Cramps, and later she and Billy would assemble the A-Bones.
On a personal note, I had met Billy several times over the years and he was a warm, genuine guy who knew what he liked and did his level best to make sure the rest of us got a chance to like it as well. R.I.P., sir, and our condolences to Miriam, Billy’s family, and the entire extended Norton family.