In the sixties, the tabloids named him “Mills Man of Music.”
Gordon Mills was regarded, at the time, as one of the world’s most successful music managers. Not once, but three times he proved his ability to turn seemingly undiscovered singers’ into pop-stars, as he guided Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdink, and Gilbert O’Sullivan to International stardom.
Gordon’s success began in the fifties. Moving on, he wrote many hit songs in the 60’s, recorded by some of the best singers known. Gordon’s own Album “Do It Yourself” was packaged, recorded, and sadly never released. Many of his songs were later recorded by Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdink.
Gordon began playing the harmonica, taught to him by his mother Lorna, her only child. His parents had met and married in India. His father there working in the British Army. They returned to England shortly after Gordon’s birth.
At fifteen, Gordon joined his first group, earning 75 pence a gig playing in the local pubs and clubs in South Wales on weekends. Then at the age of seventeen Gordon was called up for National Service, left his home town of Tonypandy in South Wales and served in Germany and Malaysia. He hated the army life and entertained his fellow mates staging musical shows for them in the evenings whenever possible.
Upon his return, he read in a music magazine that Hohner were staging a British Championship at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Gordon believed he could win, pawned his belongings and left to find his future. He came second up in the British Championship but always felt he should have got 1st place, and he went on to Europe to represent England. He won the championships and to his delight, upon his return he was asked to join the “Morton Fraser Harmonica Gang” where he met Don Paul and Ronnie Wells. Together the three formed a trio group known as “The Viscounts” who were most famous for the song ‘Who put the bomp’ which was a hit in the British charts.
The Viscounts were one of this country’s youngest and most popular vocal groups in the 1960’s and achieved their first major hit with their recording of ‘Shortnin Bread’, they achieved a long list of successes, in many mediums of entertainment, ranging from sophisticated West End cabaret to teenage concerts, appealing to all types and ages of audience. The Viscounts consisted of Gordon Mills, Don Paul and Ronnie Wells who were all one time members of ‘Morton Fraser’s Harmonica Gang’.
Gordon wrote hits. His first…’I’ll Never Get Over You’ recorded by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, reached number 4 in the British Charts in 1963, and proving he was no one-hit-wonder, in the space of a year he wrote three more hits “Hungry For Love”, “Jealous Girl”and “Three Little Words”. “I’m The Lonely One” gave Cliff Richard a Top 10 in 1964. Gordon also wrote many songs with other writers.
Jo was born in Rhodesia now (Zimbabwe). Her parents, from Lancashire, England relocated there and she grew up in Rhodesia. As a child, Jo trained and competed as a High diver, she became champion for her country at High diving and Underwater Ballet. She then entered the ‘Miss South Africa’ and was placed runner up.
At just seventeen years old, Jo came back to England and began modeling but found it hard to earn a decent living. She joined the famous Bluebell Dancetroupe and moved to Las Vegas to dance at the famous ‘Stardust Hotel’. After a few years, Jo returned to London and her modeling carreer took off.
Jo was at the height of her career when she met Gordon at a party given by old brit rock legend Terry Dene. They instantly fell in love. Gordon and pal Gerry (Engelbert) moved into the basement flat below where Jo and her friends lived and they were married two years later. Jo worked hard and supported Gordon and many of his music pals during those early years.
She saved up and bought him his first piano and together they wrote songs through the night till the early hours. Gordon and Jo along with Les Reed wrote “It’s Not Unusual”, which was a hit in the 60’s.
After Gordon’s death, ‘It’s Not Unusual’ was re released and Tom Jones, found himself back at the top of the charts.
Distraught at the goings on of the world, Gordon began a private collection of endangered animals early in 1970 and kept a successful breeding program going for many years. At one point he had the largest private collection of Orangutans in the world. He donated every baby born, to the best Zoo’s in the world and today at The San Diego Zoo in America, one of his own gorillas ‘Member’ rules his own island and huge, huge family. Pictured below is Jeremy Keeling who worked at Gordon’s private zoo in Surrey.