Believe it or not, “The Yellow Rose of Texas” was written during the Civil War in 1853. No one knows who actually wrote the song. All we know is that his initials were “J. K.” It was a favorite of Minstrel Shows back then. It was meant to be sung by an African American or a Minstrel in blackface and used politically incorrect terms like “darky.” When the song was recorded by Mitch Miller and His Orchestra, they changed the lyrics from “No other darky knows her, no darky only me.” to “Nobody else could miss her, not half as much as me.” The girl he is singing to, the “yellow rose” was originally a light-skinned woman that the singer was in love with. In 1955, that became a white woman.
When Miller recorded the song, they added a marching beat to the song, with drums and all. None of that was in the original. This was one of the first times that snare drums were used in a pop song. Mitch Miller really liked the finished product, but when he pitched it to Columbia Records, they hated it. They said it would never be a hit. So, Mitch offered to pay the company back on the initial 100,000 pressing of the record if nobody bought it. They agreed and, of course, Mitch never had to pay a dime. The record was an instant hit and was largely responsible for Mitch Miller being a star for the next few years.
In 1960, he got his own televisions how, Sing Along With Mitch, and they would print the lyrics of the song on the screen as they played, so the viewers at home could sing along. I remember well, me and my family singing all the songs at the top of our lungs. It was great fun. “The Yellow Rose of Texas” stayed at number one for six weeks.
Next: “Ain’t That a Shame” by Pat Boone