Bill "Mr. Stress" Miller had his photo in The Plain Dealer as the first Cleveland baby born in 1943 and never left the local spotlight. Harmonica in hand, he formed Mr. Stress Blues Band in 1966. On May 13, Smog Veil Records will debut The Mr. Stress Blues Band: Live at Brick Cottage 1972-1973, which features never-released covers of B.B. King, Muddy Waters and others. Alan Greene Band, Blue Lunch and more celebrate the album at the Beachland Ballroom June 3. Blue Lunch guitarist and vocalist Bob Frank remembers Mr. Stress, who died in 2015 at 72.
When I was a teenager, I wanted to be Mr. Stress. He was my hero. He was one of the first guys to put a band together during the blues revival in the later part of the mid-'60s. He was the first white guy to really make a mark and become well-known as a blues player. There really wasn't another harmonica player playing around town. He didn't really have any real competition — he was the guy. He was it. He touched a lot of people. He was a part of the lives of this whole generation of people. Everybody went to see Mr. Stress at one time or another. He was an important part of this community's cultural fabric, just like Frankie Yankovic or Dorothy Fuldheim. Nobody sounded like him. He had his own way of playing, his own style. I miss him.