Complementary stories about widely admired country singer and songwriter Roger Miller provided a highlight of Tuesday’s Writers Bloc session in Santa Monica featuring Johnny Cash biographer and longtime L.A. Times pop music critic Robert Hilburn with his guest for the evening, Kris Kristofferson.
Hilburn, whose new book “Johnny Cash: The Life” was published Tuesday, told an audience of about 300 that he first met Kristofferson in 1970. It was shortly before he’d been hired full time by the newspaper, when he was pursuing an interview with Miller, who was in Los Angeles at the time.
“I loved Roger Miller,” Hilburn, 74, said. “I got to the house in Woodland Hills and he opened the door, and he said there was another songwriter from Nashville he wanted to introduce me to. I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah,’ because I just wanted to talk to Miller.”
At the end of the interview, Hilburn said, Miller handed him his latest single in a test pressing with no label on it. Listening to it later, Hilburn said he was thoroughly taken with Miller’s new song, and called him. “I told him it was maybe the best thing he’d written in years,” Hilburn said. “Roger said, ‘I didn’t write it. It was written by that other songwriter I introduced you to.’ ”