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The Steve Miller Band is an American rock band that was created in 1967-68 in San Francisco, California, USA, by guitarist Steve Miller. With Steve Miller on guitar and lead vocals, the group is best known for a run of (mostly) the mid-1970s hit songs that have remained mainstays of the classic rock radio genre to this day.
Steve Miller (born October 5, 1943) is an American guitarist and musician who specializes in blues and rock & roll. He was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but grew up in Dallas and attended high school there. His first band, The Marksmen, was established when he was a student at St. Mark’s School of Texas. The band’s guitarist, Royce Boz Scaggs, was one of Miller’s students who taught a few guitar chords so that he could join the group.
Scaggs became better known by his stage name, Boz. During the 1960s, Miller attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he met and created the band The Ardell’s. Scaggs became a member of the Ardell’s the following year. Ben Sidran joined the Ardell’s as a pianist the next year, and he has been with them ever since.
Using Scaggs as his lead singer, Miller formed the Steve Miller Band in 1968. The band’s first release was a self-titled album, which was the first in a series of discs that were solidly grounded in the psychedelic blues style that dominated the San Francisco music scene at the time, Children of the Future. After a few albums, Scaggs would depart the band, with vocal duties being taken up by drummer Tim Davis; Miller himself would begin performing lead vocals on the band’s 1969 album Brave New World, which was released in the same year. These albums had a respectable performance on the album charts, but they did not produce a hit single.
In addition to growing up among world-class instrumentalists like Les Paul, Red Norvo, and Tal Farlow, Miller had a childhood that any musician would envy: he was the son of a music-loving physician. In addition, Charlie Mingus would often stop by to see his father when playing around the Milwaukee area. In 1962, when he was 12 years old, his family had relocated to Dallas. Miller was a member of the Ardell’s, a local blues-rock band that performed in the Wisconsin region in the early 1960s, where the two remained bandmates.
In 1966, after moving to California, Steve Miller formed the Steve Miller Blues Band, whose early work can be heard supporting Chuck Berry on his 1967 Live At The Fillmore record; in addition, the band contributed three songs to the film Revolution, which was released the same year. Miller, Scaggs, drummer Tim Davis, bassist Lonnie Turner, and organist Jim Peterman became the Steve Miller Band by the time they traveled to England to record their legendary 1968 debut Children Of The Future. Children and its spectacular follow-up, Sailor, were recorded by that incarnation of the band before Scaggs quit to pursue a solo career and Peterman left the band as well.
However, although it’s tough to call the diverse blend that preceded this one an “approach,” it’s realistic to say Miller continued in this way for many more albums to come. During the period around the release of Brave New World in 1969, Miller enlisted the help of supplemental musicians like Ben Sidran and pianist Nicky Hopkins to round out his sound. By the time of the release of Rock Love in 1971, Miller was the only original member of the Steve Miller Band still alive.
However, with the release of The Joker in 1973, something snapped in Miller’s career. Despite being there as far back as Sailor and Brave New World’s “Space Cowboy,” the good-times, purposefully basic part of Miller’s music really took off with The Joker’s title tune, which flew to No. 1 and propelled the album to No. 2 on the Billboard 200.
It was the albums that followed that were even more successful: 1976’s Fly Like An Eagle went quadruple platinum and produced three huge successes, including the No. 1 “Rockin’ Me” and the title tune, which was certified gold. With the exception of “Jet Airliner,” “Jungle Love,” and “Swingtown,” Miller’s triple-platinum Book Of Dreams was similarly a hit-filled album, with one notable exception: only the last of the album’s three successes, “Swingtown,” was a Miller original, for which he shared writing credit with Chris McCarty.
The guy who had written the song “Take The Money And Run” in 1976 then went out and did precisely that. In 1978, he relocated to Oregon, where he created a 24-track recording studio, from which he emerged in 1981 with the songs he’d produced there. What were the outcomes? The gold-certified Circle Of Love included the Top 40 smash “Heart Like A Wheel,” and the platinum-certified Abracadabra had the third No. 1 single of Miller’s career with the upbeat title tune. Miller was releasing hit singles with lyrics like “Abra-abracadabra/ I want to reach out and grab ye” over 15 years after the release of Children Of The Future, which was hailed as a mature artistic statement.
Miller’s professional life, on the other hand, took a nosedive. Miller’s follow-up album to the No. 3 smash hit Abracadabra only managed to reach No. 125 on the charts, and its studio follow-up, Italian X Rays, which was actually one of Miller’s better efforts in years, only reached No. 101 on the charts before disappearing from the charts in less than three months.
In the 1970s, the band had some hits that have since become classics, including Jet Airliner, which contained some evocative lyrics that brought home the loss of life while traveling; and The Joker, which contains the famous line about the “pompatus of love,” which is, of course, nonsense, but that didn’t stop a lot of stoned folks from babbling about it for years.
|Origin||San Francisco, California, U.S|
|Genres||Rock; blues-rock; psychedelic rock; southern rock; rock and roll|
|Labels||Capitol, Mercury, Polydor, Roadrunner, Loud & Proud|
|Associated acts||Goldberg-Miller Blues band, Boz Scaggs|
Steve Miller Band Fanmail Address:
Steve Miller Band
Scott Boorey Management
325 Glen Arms Dr
Danville, CA 94526-4113
Steve Miller Band Contact Details
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