Legacy: Roger Miller -- The singer-composer is remembered for his country hits and Broadway musical, ''Big River''


Legacy: Roger Miller

Roger Miller knew the perils of crossing over too far. In the fall of 1966, after winning 11 Grammys in the two previous years, the singer-composer of ”King of the Road” began to host his own TV variety series. Less than four months later, the show was canceled and Miller was burnt out. ”People were dressing me and writing things for me to say,” he said. ”All I wanted to be was Hank Williams, and suddenly I was Andy.”

Miller, who died of cancer Oct. 25 at 56, was one of country’s most original performers — combining lunatic word play, wacky scat singing, and jazzed-up ditties. His career took off with 1964’s ”Dang Me,” but Miller’s manic energy apparently had a cost. In 1972 he supported an Oklahoma ban on over-the-counter amphetamines, calling the drugs ”a snake pit I got into.”

Miller had modest country hits in the ’70s and ’80s, but his next pop breakthrough came in 1985. His Broadway musical, Big River, based on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Miller’s own childhood, won seven Tony awards. Despite his revived fame, Miller’s ego stayed in check: ”No matter how big you get, the size of your funeral depends on the weather.” Among his works: KING OF THE ROAD Most but not all of his greatest hits. A-BIG RIVER The original-cast album, featuring Miller’s songs but not his voice. A