New Year’s Tribute to Mr Stress, Jan 1 1943-May 18 2015, RIP to a Great Bluesman

As a New Year’s gift to all my fabulous friends, readers and Internet acquaintances, I’m glad to share memories, an essay, and a few links about Cleveland’s Bill Miller—aka Mr Stress—a great blues harmonica player, singer, and leader of bands who died this past year, on May 18. I followed him avidly from 1972, when I turned 18, old enough to go to bars, to 1985 when I moved to NY. I think of him today, not only because his passing came this year, but because he was the first baby born in Cleveland in 1943, a bare minute after midnight. He was feted on the front page of the next day’s newspaper as the city’s first firstborn—a fitting birth for a bluesman when you consider Muddy Waters singing about the fabled blues character ‘born on the 7th son of a 7th mother on the 7th day.’ Clearly, Mr. Stress had an auspicious pedigree for a bluesman. He would’ve been 73 when the clock & calendar turn tonight. In 2012, I contributed an essay about Stress for the book Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology, linked to here. Happily, I reconnected with him after I published the essay. Also, here’s Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Chuck Yarborough‘s appreciation of him, published two days after his passing; a musical tribute by Cleveland musician Alex Bevan; and audio of Stress in performance. 

2 replies
  1. Celeste says:

    Thanks for this as it brings back some great memories. I was in nursing school at CWRU in the late 70’s and saw Mr. Stress at The Brick. Always a good time. I loved your essay in Rust Belt Chic.

    • Philip Turner says:

      Thanks, Celeste, it’s great to know you enjoyed my piece on Mr Stress. Speaking of The Brick, a couple months ago a woman who’s a daughter of The Brick’s longtime owners found the Mr Stress material on my site, including an old picture of the building. She wanted to know if she reproduce the picture, and of course I gave her my permission, explaining that Stress had provided me with the picture. Thanks for visiting my blog, Philip Turner


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