Norton Records co-founder Billy Miller has died following a battle with multiple myeloma, according to the label. He was 62.
Miller, alongside his wife Miriam Linna, launched and ran the fan zine Kicks Magazine in 1978, and formed Norton Records nearly a decade later, with its first release Hasil Adkins’ 1986 collection Out To Hunch. Over the years, the label became a home for rockabilly, roots music, rare indie records and soul releases, often mining the obscure to shine a light on unheralded genres and artists. In addition to Adkins, the label’s web site calls Norton the home for artists such as Link Wray, the Pretty Things, the Sonics, Daddy Long Legs and the Flaming Groovies, alongside a slew of others.
While this year Norton Records celebrated its 30th anniversary, it had experienced an up-and-down recent past; the Brooklyn-based label’s Red Hook warehouse flooded during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, destroying the majority of its CD inventory and back catalog and prompting, among other things, a Wash-a-Thon held at Brooklyn Bowl where volunteers gathered to help wash, re-sleeve and restore its vinyl collection.
But the label recovered enough to open its first-ever storefront, called the Norton Record Shop, in Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights neighborhood this January, and in a Village Voice article announcing the store’s opening Linna said they had restored all but 66 titles from the label’s back catalog, promising its entire vinyl collection would be available again by the end of 2016.
Last August, Linna posted a note that detailed Miller’s recent declining health, including kidney failure stemming from the multiple myeloma and the amputation of his left leg due to complications from the disease charcot, which can affect long-term diabetics. Miller had been receiving chemotherapy and dialysis, Linna wrote.