Tex Beneke

Photo of Tex Beneke
  • Birth Name

    Gordon Lee Beneke
  • Born

    February 12, 1914
    Ft. Worth, Texas
  • Died

    May 30, 2000 (age 86)
    Costa Mesa, California
  • Orchestras

    Glenn Miller

Saxophonist Tex Beneke is best re­mem­bered for his long as­so­ci­a­tion with Glenn Miller. Beneke be­gan his ca­reer per­form­ing in re­gional bands in the Oklahoma and Texas area. He joined Ben Young in 1935 and trav­eled to Detroit with Young’s group in 1937. There he was heard by fel­low sax­o­phon­ist Sam Donahue, who rec­om­mended him to his then boss, Gene Krupa. Krupa could­n’t hire Beneke but knew Miller was putting to­gether a new out­fit and in­formed the band­leader about him.

Beneke de­buted with Miller’s or­ches­tra in 1938. He quickly be­came Miller’s clos­est as­so­ci­ate and emerged as a pop­u­lar star in his own right. Aside from his sax du­ties he oc­ca­sion­ally sang, most no­tably on the hit song Chattanooga Choo Choo.” He also ap­peared with the band in their two film ap­pear­ances.

Post-Miller Years

When Miller dis­banded in September 1942 to join the Army Air Force, Beneke went out on tour with fel­low Miller vo­cal­ists Marion Hutton and the Modernaires as a com­bined act called the Glenn Miller Singers. Beneke re­ceived of­fers from Jan Savitt and Horace Heidt, tak­ing the lat­ter at a ru­mored guar­an­tee of $500.00 per week, but three weeks later, in December, he was drafted into the Navy and forced to put his ca­reer on hold. While in the ser­vice he led a dance band at an Oklahoma mil­i­tary base.

After his dis­charge in 1945, Beneke was re­cruited by Miller’s widow to lead his for­mer em­ploy­er’s Army Air Force or­ches­tra when it re­turned to the states. He read­ily ac­cepted, and the group made their first civil­ian per­for­mance in January 1946. The band quickly be­came one of the most pop­u­lar in the coun­try, chart­ing many hits over the next few years and play­ing to record-break­ing crowds.

Beneke, how­ever, was not con­tent with the re­stric­tions placed upon him by Miller’s es­tate. He was forced to stick with Miller’s orig­i­nal and wartime books and al­lowed no in­no­va­tion. He felt that Miller’s sound was ca­pa­ble of be­ing ex­panded upon and of­ten ar­gued that Miller him­self had planned to ex­plore new di­rec­tions af­ter the war.

Finally in December 1950, Beneke broke his of­fi­cial ties with Miller, con­tin­u­ing on with the band un­der his own name. Numerous changes in the line-up made it an al­most en­tirely new out­fit. The or­ches­tra re­mained highly pop­u­lar for many years. Members of note in­clude vo­cal­ist Eydie Gorme and arranger Henry Mancini.

Beneke con­tin­ued work­ing up un­til the 1990s. Tex Beneke passed away in 2000 from res­pi­ra­tory fail­ure.


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  • Three Little Fishes
    Glenn Miller (Marion Hutton, Tex Beneke), Bluebird (1939)
  • Chattanooga Choo Choo
    Glenn Miller (Tex Beneke, Modernaires), Bluebird (1941)
  • I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo
    Glenn Miller (Tex Beneke, Marion Hutton, Modernaires), RCA Victor (1942)
  • Jukebox Saturday Night
    Glenn Miller (Tex Beneke, Marion Hutton, Modernaires), RCA Victor (1942)
  • Give Me Five Minutes More
    Tex Beneke and the Miller Orchestra (Tex Beneke), RCA Victor (1946)
  • Uncle Remus Said
    Tex Beneke and the Miller Orchestra (Lillian Land and vocal group), RCA Victor (1946)

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  • Screenshot
    "Chattanooga Choo Choo"
    Glenn Miller (Tex Beneke, Paula Kelly, Modernaires)
    from Sun Valley Serenade, 20th Century Fox (1941)
  • Screenshot
    "People Like You and Me"
    Glenn Miller (Ray Eberle, Marion Hutton, Modernaires, Tex Beneke)
    from Orchestra Wives, 20th Century Fox (1942)
  • Screenshot
    "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo"
    Glenn Miller (Tex Beneke, Marion Hutton, Modernaires)
    from Orchestra Wives, 20th Century Fox (1942)
  • Screenshot
    "Serenade in Blue"
    Tex Beneke (Crew Chiefs, Arthur Melvin, Lillian Lane)

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Copyright owners, please see our removal policy.


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  • Glenn Miller
    June 18, 1938 (NBC) 29:59
  • Glenn Miller
    June 19, 1939 (NBC) 13:54
  • Glenn Miller Chesterfield Show
    May 14, 1942 (CBS) 13:59
  • Glenn Miller Chesterfield Show
    July 14, 1942 (CBS) 13:59


  1. Simon, George T. The Big Bands. 4th ed. New York: Schirmer, 1981.
  2. Walker, Leo. The Wonderful Era of the Great Dance Bands. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1972.
  3. “Miller Singers Rebooked.” Billboard 12 Dec. 1942: 17.
  4. “Midnight Shows at All Downtown Houses Tomorrow.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 30 Dec. 1942: 9.
  5. “Tex Beneke Set to Head Miller Outfit in Mufti.” Billboard 6 Oct. 1945: 15.
  6. “Music as Written.” Billboard 5 Jan. 1946: 28.
  7. “On the Stand: Tex Beneke.” Billboard 27 Jan. 1951: 16.
  8. Oliver, Myrna. “Bandleader Tex Beneke Dies.” The Daily Gazette [Schenectady, NY] 1 Jun. 2000: C8