Mills will perform in Pictou at the deCoste Centre on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m.
“An autumn tour in the Maritime provinces is as good as it gets, for many reasons,” Mills said. “You don’t have to travel far from one place to the other… and the people are wonderful.”
Best known for Music Box Dancer – a tune that became a huge hit for Mills in the late 1970s, reaching number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earning him a Grammy award nomination – Mills says semi-retired is a good way to describe him now.
“I guess you could say that,” he said. “I’m not writing anymore, and that was always the impetus for these tours, getting the music out and performing it.”
In a telephone interview from Stowe, Vermont, where he has lived for almost 15 years, the 75-year-old Mills said the last song he wrote was Whatever Happened to Christmas, which he wrote five years ago for Rita MacNeil.
His most recent album, from a couple of years back, is a collection of earlier recordings that were digitally remastered.
“It’s called After the Dancer,” he said, “and it’s the story of my life after Music Box Dancer. I do play Music Box Dancer (in the upcoming Atlantic Canadian shows) but it is not on that CD.”
Asked if he ever gets tired of playing the tune for which he is most famous, Mills said no, because so many people seem to like it so much.
A Montreal native, Mills was a member of the Bells for a couple of years before starting his solo career. He played on Stay Awhile, the group’s biggest hit.
“We had a lot of fun together,” he said. “In fact, I learned a lot about recording from (Bells member) Cliff Edwards.”
Years later, Mills released a single whose A side was a romantic ballad called The Poet and Me. Mills remembers getting a call from an Ottawa DJ acquaintance of his who said the song didn’t fit his station’s format but that he would give the flipside a try.
“He phoned me and said ‘I can’t play the ballad, I’m in a rock station’ but he said ‘that catchy tune on the B side, I’m going to play it and see what happens.’ So he did and the rest is history.”
The “catchy tune,” of course, was Music Box Dancer. It has been described as arguably one of the most recognizable melodies ever, for which Mills is grateful. He admits the tune’s success caught everyone off guard.
“Nobody in the band liked it,” he said, laughing at the memory. “Nobody wanted to play it.”
Nearly four decades since the single’s release, Mills can look back on a career that includes over two-dozen albums, three Junos and a lot of songwriter awards. But he’s also looking ahead, looking forward to bringing his music back to the Atlantic region.
“I love it down there,” he said. “People are easy going. It’s a great tour.”
Nova Scotia shows
Frank Mills will do the following shows in Nova Scotia as part of his Atlantic Canadian tour:
– Oct. 25, Yarmouth, Th’YARC.
– Oct. 26, Wolfville, Convocation Hall, Acadia University.
– Oct. 30, Truro, Cobequid Educational Centre.
– Nov. 1, Halifax, Rebecca Cohn Auditorium.
– Nov. 5, Pictou, deCoste Centre.
– Nov. 7, Port Hawkesbury, Strait Area Education Resource Centre.