Songwriter Ron Miller, whose tunes included pop classics “Touch Me in the Morning” and “For Once in My Life,” died July 23 of cardiac arrest in Santa Monica, Calif. after a long battle with emphysema and cancer. He was 74.
Miller got his start in the music business in the 1960s, when Motown founder Berry Gordy saw him perform at a piano bar and invited him to Detroit as one of the label’s first songwriters and record producers.
His songs have been recorded by artists including Judy Garland, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and Ray Charles.
“For Once in My Life,” written with Orlando Murden, is one of the most recorded songs in history, with more than 270 versions. A rendition by Tony Bennett and Wonder won a Grammy award this year.
In 2005, Charles’ and Gladys Knight’s version of Miller’s “Heaven Help Us All” picked up the best gospel performance Grammy.
Born in Chicago, Miller was a die-hard Cubs fan, who wrote his first sad song as a child about his beloved but hapless team.
Before meeting Gordy at the piano bar, Miller made ends meet by selling washing machines and taking odd jobs. He served in the Marines and was stationed all over the world.
Throughout the 1970s, Miller wrote the book and lyrics to many musicals, including “Daddy Goodness” and “Cheery,” based on William Inge’s “Bus Stop.” Barbra Streisand recorded “I’ve Never Been A Woman Before,” from the musical, for her “The Way We Were” album.
Miller is survived by his wife, Aurora Miller, and six children.
A memorial service was scheduled for Aug. 4.