By DeAnn Lubell

Photos submitted by Chip Miller

The California desert communities are populated with numerous individuals who excel as masters of their crafts whether as artists representing most mediums, novelists and journalists, directors and producers, actors, screenwriters, musicians, as well as songwriters and recording artists.  Chip Miller is a Coachella Valley resident with a stunning track record of being able to fulfill all the above talents.  Yes, truly!  All the above.  The man has done it all in the realm of creativity.

Because Chip’s work experience in entertainment and arts could fill a three-volume collection of books as his extensive resume includes a plethora of credits in the film industry as an actor, director, producer, and an accomplished artist and illustrator – for today’s column, we will just focus on his incredible music career as a songwriter, performer, and music producer.  Stay tuned next week for part 2 focusing on Chip’s amazing involvement in art and film.


Born in Paterson, New Jersey, with a BFA from Manhattan’s School of Visual Arts, Chip Miller served in the USAF and worked in England as an assistant to Terry Gilliam on the BBC TV series, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” On his return to the States, he studied for 4 months with Norman Rockwell, then became a successful freelance artist and designer during the day and toured the East Coast as one half of a popular folk duo, Reynolds and Miller, with his songwriting partner from Scotland, Michael Reynolds. Miller first met Reynolds at RAF Mildenhall Air Base, when they were both stationed there as Airmen in the USAF. He overheard Michael singing an original tune in the barracks. Soon they found themselves jamming and writing together. After playing at several university clubs in Cambridge, they developed an admirable following in the UK. Their early music was a mixture of original and classic British folk songs featuring intricate vocal harmonies. Their first album was self-produced and recorded in Bury St. Edmunds, England in 1970. Titled, “Flat Ten,” it became a successful indie release throughout England, thanks to the endorsement of the London underground scene.

Miller was honorably discharged and returned to the States in 1971, followed by Reynolds six months later. As he carved out a new life in New Jersy as a freelance illustrator and went back to art school in NYC to complete his BFA, he and Michael were tightening up their folk act, writing new material, and doing shows at colleges throughout the area. Soon “Reynolds and Miller” was the top acoustic act and dominated the east coast circuit tours. They were immensely popular in Manhattan, where they played all the venues in Greenwich Village – The Bitter End, Folk City, Night Owl Café, The Village Gate, Café What?, the Bottom Line, and Max’s Kansas City.

During one of their concerts at the Lincoln Center bandshell, they were discovered by the legendary singer/songwriter, Nina Simone. Immediately, they signed with her manager, Nat Shapiro, who got them a record deal at Village Records, a spin-off of Vanguard Records.  While they toured with name acts, like Jackson Browne, Seals & Crofts, and Cat Stevens, the duo was working on original songs for their second album. When Shapiro heard their demos, he secured interest from Capitol Records and brought in Paul Simon to produce their breakthrough album, especially since the music press already referred to Chip and Michael as an “Irish and Scottish Simon & Garfunkel from New Jersey.” Music Critics in New York dubbed them, “New Jersey’s answer to Crosby, Stills & Nash.” The Village Voice wrote, “Fans were spellbound by their well-crafted songs, intricate harmonies, and story-telling savvy.” In less than 3 years, the folk singers created a base of over 10,000 supportive fans throughout the Metropolitan area. In 1973, they were named Best New Artist at the prestigious three-day Hamilton Music Festival in upstate New York, where they played to their largest crowd of over 3,000 music lovers.

As they were recording the new album, tentatively titled, “Airmen,” the UK label that owned their first indie UK album, “Flat Ten,” re-released it in 2016 through a subsidiary label in America under a new title, “Cathedral.” That’s when Reynolds and Miller discovered new fans all over the world on the internet, even though they had split in ’74. During the Capitol sessions with Paul Simon, halfway through completion, after laying guest star vocal tracks from Simon, Broadway star Sally Eaton (“Hair”), the two songwriting partners became strained when a young woman lured Michael Reynolds to join Scientology, still in its infancy stages. Suddenly L. Ron Hubbard was more important than an album on Capitol Records produced by Paul Simon. Within months, the friendship splintered, the songwriting collaboration hit a wall, and Simon could not take one more second of Michael pitching Dianetics and left the project, putting the album on hold. A hold that would last until 2010.

Capitol was disappointed, so to recoup their costs, they assembled a live album of Reynolds and Miller in concert at The Bitter End and Folk City that was recorded for a planned 3rd album, live and unplugged. They did a quick mix and released it in 1974 and again in 2010. It was titled “Songs from an Old Sand Mill: Live in NYC.” The Old Sand Mill reference was just a cool name and meant “Songs from Reynolds AND Miller. The album was only purchased by devout fans and the label did no promotion for it and used it as a tax write-off. Ironically decades later when Chip would create the alt-folk rock band, Old Sand Mill, and released a very successful, all-star debut album in 2018, “The World is Getting Colder,” Capitol did a reissue of the live album the same year. And because of their current Old Sand Mill online fan base of about 350,000, the acoustic Reynolds and Miller live reissue did quite well for the label, even making them a profit.

Following their split, Chip started up a Brit-inspired, musician-driven rock band, Pomeroy. They were a Pink Floyd-like group who played theaters and festivals in the NY Metropolitan area, opening for Yes, Jefferson Starship, King Crimson, Patti Smith, and Lou Reed. The band featured lead guitarist extraordinaire, David Maynard (from The Weasels and Tina Turner’s band). Miller had the opportunity to co-write a dozen songs with Maynard who passed away in 2019. Pomeroy’s final farewell concert was at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), where they opened for The Ramones. The band toured together from 1974 to 1975 when Miller joined the Broadway cast of “Jesus Christ Superstar” as the official stand-in for Jeff Fenholt, who played Jesus of Nazareth. In his year-long involvement with the show, Miller got to perform twice when Fenholt had the flu.

During this era, Chip composed, sang, and played on well-known national commercial TV and radio jingles for Toyota, Wrangler Jeans, Pillsbury, Pizza Hut, Mobil, Borden’s, and Polaroid. His most famous jingle, “Milk Is a Natural” for the ADA, was heard 24/7 everywhere.

After moving away from live performing, Chip utilized his visual arts and writing strengths and worked in the ad business on Madison Ave, as an Art Director at J. Walter Thompson, and a Creative Director at McCann-Erickson. He was also head copywriter and directed numerous national and regional television and radio commercials for such clients as CBS TV; Paramount Pictures; Filmways Pictures; Toyota; Kellogg’s Corp; Kodak; Marriott Hotel Corp (Chip designed their corporate logo still in use); Pepsi Corp feat. Eddie Murphy; Bob’s Big Boy feat. Mike Myers; KIMN Radio feat. Rodney Dangerfield; Jergens Lotion feat.

Lindsay Wagner; Jamaican Tourism; Tourism Ireland; Wrangler Jeans; Pizza Hut; IBM Corp; Levi’s Cords feat. Steve Martin; MTV; Ford Motors; Progresso; Canada Dry; Becton Dickinson; and Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals.

Miller founded his ad agency, American Media Advertising, in East Rutherford, New Jersey in the late 70’s and within two years became the second most successful agency in the state. They specialized in medical, pharmaceutical, industrial, technology, and corporate development clients building in the Meadowlands, now the site of Giants Stadium. Miller also freelanced, writing topical articles, movies, concerts, and music reviews for the New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, Variety, LA Times, LA Weekly, and the NY Daily News. Though his songwriting was on hiatus, Miller gave spoken word performances of his original poetry and lyrics, and his poetry has been published in 33 national poetry anthologies, including the National Literary Society in Washington, DC. In addition, he toured throughout New England opening for great American poets, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Patti Smith.

Chip’s original illustrations and photos graced the covers of national magazines, best-selling novels, and record album jackets. He had exhibits of his work at galleries around NYC and major cities on the east coast and had an original painting, a portrait of John Glenn, on display at the Smithsonian Institute’s Aerospace Division for 15 years. During this period, he dabbled in musical projects, such as producing a local disco single he wrote for a female dance artist, Dee Channelle. He wrote and recorded other solo releases in different genres from soft rock and country to folk and progressive rock.

In the early ’80s, Miller sold his ad agency and moved to Hollywood where he would achieve a successful career as a film director, producer, and screenwriter, as well as a Music Producer and Music Supervisor. Now a cult film in Germany and the UK, “Mortuary Academy,” a dark, indie comedy from Sony Pics, was produced by Miller, who also co-wrote the script, performed, and recorded the film’s opening theme song with his band, Old Sand Mill, doing a cover of The Beach Boys’ “Be True to your School,” with guest star, Brian Wilson, the song’s writer, adding vocals. “Mortuary Academy” starred Paul Bartel, Christopher Atkins, Cesar Romero, Perry Lang, Mary Woronov, and Wolfman Jack.

Another ambitious project was Miller’s original production and arrangement of a fictional

film score composed by David Spear, featuring the Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra. The album, titled, “Midnight Rendezvous,” was released on Landmark Records and re-released online in 2020.

When MTV made its debut, Miller was there at the very start, producing The Cars “Magic” video, the 6th clip ever shown on the new network. In MTV’s 3rd year, Miller produced The Commodores’ classic music video, “Nightshift” which was on heavy rotation on MTV for 6 months. He went on to direct and produce videos for VH-1, CMT, and BET as well, as for such artists as, Linkin Park – The Rolling Stones – Brian Wilson – Squeeze – LL Cool J – The Black Crowes – Charlie Wilson & The Gap Band – Marc Anthony – Red Hot Chili Peppers – Jerry Douglas (Alison Krauss & Union Station) – Donovan – Holly Robinson – Celine Dion

Gerald Levert – Faith Evans – MC Lyte – Night Ranger – Eddie Murphy – The Pointer Sisters – Beastie Boys – Paul Simon – Crosby, Stills & Nash – Youth Edition – Shaquille O’Neal – David Josias – Mary Youngblood – Tattoo Rodeo – Sir Jinx – The Curve – Jeffrey Osborne – OMD (Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark) – Peter Murphy – Danzig – Lizzy Borden – Little River Band – Timothy B. Schmit (The Eagles) – and Old Sand Mill. As of 12/2023, Miller has helmed 163 videos for major and indie record labels in every genre, from rock, rap, pop, metal, and country to hip hop, R&B, jazz, dance, and EDM.

As a music producer, Miller oversaw music production and arrangements on single releases for Grammy-winning rapper Young MC, British actress/singer Susan George, The Kingston Trio, The Commodores, Bob Shane, Timothy B. Schmit (The Eagles), Trini Lopez, The Young Irish Tenors, Pia Zadora, Deniece Williams, Denny Laine (Wings & The Moody Blues), Diahann Carroll, hip hop artist, Madd KD, singer, Brad Mercer, and Old Sand Mill. In addition, he has been the Music Supervisor and soundtrack producer on 7 indie theatrical movies, three feature documentaries, four TV pilots, and one series.

In 2007, Michael Reynolds was watching CNN and was taken aback when he saw his former songwriting partner, Chip, as a guest on The Larry King Show, sitting with his girlfriend at the time, actress/singer, Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas. Also on the show was her daughter Chynna Phillips, of the Grammy-winning pop group Wilson-Phillips. They were promoting a screenplay Chip had written about the 60’s icons, and that Chynna was set in to portray her mother, Mama Michelle in an ABC 3-part mini-series, “California Dreaming.” The series would go on to be canceled after Papa John Phillips died and his other daughter, actress Mackenzie Phillips penned a scathing and scandalous book about her and her father. But Michael contacted Chip and assured him he was done with Scientology. They buried the past and Chip proposed writing a theme song for the weekly series he was directing and producing, “The Sun Show,” for Disney Television and Disney Channel. Michael flew out to LA and when they played each other’s solo work, they rediscovered their still pristine and perfect harmonies were intact. The reformed duo created a perfect composition for the show’s theme song and Disney loved it. Especially after Chip invited a handful of guest stars to appear on the track, such as the multi-Grammy winner Jerry Douglas of Alison Krauss & Union Station; Grammy winner/R&B legend, Deniece Williams; Darryl Jones of The Rolling Stones; Howie Wyeth of Bob Dylan’s Band; Gabe Witcher (Punch Brothers); and the Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra.

“Too Much Sun,” was a rousing success and became a hit record in the children’s market and sells consistently on streaming platforms. Thus, after a 25-year absence, Reynolds and Miller were reborn again, but this time, rebooted as Old Sand Mill. But it was a bittersweet reunion as Michael was lured back into Scientology to deal with the dark clouds in his life and returned east. But Miller went forward and built on what was re-confirmed for him – his music and his songs were still relevant. For three years, Chip selected certain songs from his Pomeroy era, his Reynolds and Miller days, and even his solo era, as well as securing the master tracks from the unfinished album Reynolds and Miller were making with Paul Simon at Capitol Records. He remixed, re-arranged, enhanced, laid in new vocals and instrumentation, and ended up with over 40 songs. That sparked his writing and he proceeded to compose a dozen new songs, collaborating on some with Janaki Jennings, a young writer/musician from 29 Palms. In. 2017, he premiered his new, Brit and Celtic-flavored alternative folk-rock band, Old Sand Mill.

Miller again gathered music celebrity friends to participate in Old Sand Mill’s debut CD:

Brian Wilson; Jerry Douglas (Alison Krauss & Union Station); Deniece Williams; Donovan; Darryl Jones (The Rolling Stones); Earl Mankey (Concrete Blonde); Rick Boston (Low Pop Suicide); R&B icon Gabriel Witcher (Punch Brothers); Howie Wyeth (Bob Dylan’s band); Sally Eaton (starred in original Broadway cast of “Hair!”); local desert songstress, Patti Gribow; and an uncredited Paul Simon. The album took two years to record in London, Nashville, NYC, and Burbank, with additional mixing at Desert C.A.M. Studios. The final product, “The World is Getting Colder” was released in Europe in 2017, and in North America in 2018, on DCAM Records/Universal Records/BMI Music International. The reviews were wonderful. Billboard wrote: “This debut work offers eclectic instrumental arrangements, passionate lyrics, psychedelic sounds, very catchy tunes, and a couple of tracks evoking spot-on Pink Floyd.” A couple of British music publications said it was “groundbreaking for a debut album,” and “’ The World is Getting Colder’ is a future classic.” One music writer wrote that we went in reverse and began our career with a Sgt. Pepper. Miller had created an alter ego by focusing on the band, the music, and the guest artists and not himself. Listeners assumed Old Sand Mill is this new band that paid no dues, never toured, yet seemed to have 40 years of experience in their first outing. The CD sold nicely, and the digital album and their first two singles sold extremely well on all the major music streaming platforms. Downloads went through the roof. Particularly in Europe, where Old Sand Mill has a huge fan base, followed by Ireland, America, France, Scotland, Italy, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan. The album still sells and seems to gain new fans every month, aged from 25 to 75. Go figure.

Old Sand Mill’s next album, was more of an extended EP, which included a few tracks not included in “The World is Getting Colder.” Titled, “The Example,” Miller chose to show the musical diversity of Old Sand Mill as not just a studio band, showing off musical chops as a tight, complex group of musicians. The EP pays homage to Yes, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, and Queen. Chip provides lead and harmony vocals, acoustic rhythm guitar, harmonica, flute, and percussion, while band member, the late David Maynard of The Weasels, demonstrates his Jimmy Page talents, along with bassist Tom Carroll, Janaki Jennings on mandolin and rhythm electric guitar, Howie Fields on drums, and Professor John Slack on keyboards, organ, and mellotron. When the album was ready for release in 2020, it was held up until the pandemic was over and finally released in 2022. The album has done well and is still in active release. Only two of their former market audiences didn’t respond to “The Example,” Italy and Japan. But they picked up a new market in parts of the Middle East.

Chip’s awards include a National Accolade Award, 2 Aegis Awards, 2 CMT Music Video Awards, 5 MTV Video Awards, MTV Australia Video Awards, 3 MTV Europe Video Awards, 2 Billboard Music Video Awards, an American Music Award, a Clio Award, a DANAE Literary Award, 2 Jasper Communications Awards, and an ENTENTE Award. He also received a Los Angeles Art Director Award, Golden Pyramid Award, Smithsonian Institute’s Aerospace Division Art Award, 2 Clover Writer’s Society of America Awards, and a Soho Writer’s Circle Award. He got an LA EMMY Nomination for his critically- hailed 12-part PBS documentary series on the former USSR: “After the Red Star: The Baltics, Western Republics, Caucasus, Russia, and Central Asia,” which he edited with Travis Miller, as well as music supervised.

Chip Miller, Reynolds and Miller, and Old Sand Mill’s complete discographies are available at:

Please stay tuned for Part 2 in next week’s edition of Coachella Valley Weekly’s Desert Art Scene about Chip’s illustrious film career and accomplishments.