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. His sudden appearance in Heidt’s orchestra in December surprised many people, but his unexpected departure after only five days on the bandstand surprised even him. Beneke had tried to enlist in the navy earlier in the year but had been rejected due to color blindness. No sooner had he settled in to Heidt’s outfit when he received a wire from the navy informing him that they had waived his disability, and he was ordered to report. 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)
  • The Air Minded Executive
    Glenn Miller (Dorothy Claire, Tex Beneke), Bluebird (1941)
  • It Happened in Sun Valley
    Glenn Miller (Paula Kelly, Ray Eberle, Tex Beneke, Modernaires), Bluebird (1941)
  • 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)

All recordings are from the Internet Archive's 78rpm collection. Copyright owners, please see our removal policy.


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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. “Beneke Comes And Goes With Horace Heidt.” Down Beat 15 Feb. 1943: 7.
  6. “Tex Beneke Set to Head Miller Outfit in Mufti.” Billboard 6 Oct. 1945: 15.
  7. “Music as Written.” Billboard 5 Jan. 1946: 28.
  8. “On the Stand: Tex Beneke.” Billboard 27 Jan. 1951: 16.
  9. Oliver, Myrna. “Bandleader Tex Beneke Dies.” The Daily Gazette [Schenectady, NY] 1 Jun. 2000: C8