Synopsis of Pop Music
"Some people call me the Space Cowboy,
Some call me the Gangster of Love..."
One of the biggest success stories in the mid-1970’s pop music belongs to Steve Miller. After a long and critically-acclaimed stint as a blues rocker, Miller switched gears and married his mastery of blue-styled guitar to pop melodies, recording them in a state-of-the-art style. As a result, he sold millions of albums and scored many a hit with catchy tunes like “Rock ‘n’ Me,” “The Joker” and “Fly Like An Eagle.”
Steve Miller began his musical career at age 12 when he formed his first band, the Marksmen. He fell for blues music early on and pursued both rock and blues styles in various bands during his school years. After school, he moved to San Francisco and formed the Steve Miller Band, winning a record contract after an impressive performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. With future solo star Boz Scaggs on vocals, the Steve Miller Band recorded Children Of The Future and Sailor, a pair of acclaimed albums that blended blues with psychedelia.
Boz Scaggs left the Steve Miller Band after Sailor, but they continued to make albums and tour through 1972. However, the band was forced to take a break when Miller had to recover from a car accident. During this time, he refined his style by filtering the blues and psychedelic elements of his sound into more concise, pop-friendly songs. The new approach paid off when his next album, The Joker, became a #2 hit. The title song, a first-person tune about an aspiring romeo, mixed Miller’s blues style with a catchy sing-along chorus to great effect and gave Miller his first #1 pop hit.
In 1975, Miller returned to touring by appearing at the Knebworth Festival in England alongside luminaries like Pink Floyd. He also began work on what would become his best-selling album ever. The next year, he released Fly Like An Eagle to universal acclaim. The album, which mixed spacey sounds with strong pop hooks, became a Top-5 hit and spawned an array of popular singles. “Take The Money And Run” was a country-tinged outlaw fantasy that hit #11 on the pop charts. It was followed by a #1 hit in “Rock ‘n’ Me,” a guitar-driven rocker with a sing-along chorus built around the title phrase.
Steve Miller began 1977 with a hit when the title track from Fly Like An Eagle, a funky tune with plenty of spacey synthesizer, sailed to #2 on the charts. That year, Miller released another smash album, Book Of Dreams, also full of hit singles. The tasty guitar-pop of “Jet Airliner” gave this album its first hit, going Top-10 on the charts. “Jungle Love,” a driving rocker with tongue-in-cheek lyrics about a tropical romance, became a Top-30 hit. By year’s end, the album scored another Top-20 with “Swingtown,” a party-hearty tune with a danceable beat.
At this point, Steve Miller took an extended break. For the next four years, there would be no touring or new music, but a compilation called Greatest Hits 1974-1978 kept Miller’s name alive in the charts. In 1981, he returned with the Circle Of Love album. It gave him another Top-40 tune with the easy-going pop of “Heart Like A Wheel.” The next year, he added a bit of new-wave style to his sound for the Abracadabra album. The experimentation paid off when the title track, which blended Miller’s guitar sound with synthesizers and punchy new-wave rhythms, became Miller’s third #1 hit.
Steve Miller stayed active as a recording artist throughout the 1980’s. One of his most acclaimed albums during this time was Living In The 20th Century, which featured one side of faithfully performed blues classics. Miller liked returning to his roots so much that he followed it with Born 2B Blue, a full album of jazz and blues covers. In the summer 1989, Miller returned to touring for the first time since 1983. It was a big success and began a tradition of yearly summer tours for Steve Miller that continues today.
Today, Steve Miller continues to be as influential and popular as ever. Although he has not released a new album since 1993, his classics continue to sell a combined million albums every year. Miller also collaborated with Paul McCartney on his Flaming Pie album. Miller’s summer tours are well-attended every year and he is rumored to be working on a new album. Meanwhile, classic songs like “Fly Like An Eagle” and “The Joker” are heard all the time on the radio and have been covered by artists like Seal and k.d. lang. The durability of these songs proves that Miller’s bluesy pop sound won’t be going out of style anytime soon.
Artist Release History1968 - Children of the Future
1968 - Sailor
1969 - Your Saving Grace
1969 - Revolution
1969 - Brave New World
1970 - Number Five
1971 - Rock Love
1972 - Recall the Beginning: A Journey from Eden
1973 - The Joker
1977 - Book of Dreams
1981 - Circle of Love
1982 - Abracadabra
1983 - Steve Miller Band: Live!
1983 - Live
1984 - Italian X Rays
1987 - Living in the 20th Century
1988 - Born 2B Blue
1993 - Wide River
Pop Sub Categoriesrock
Essential Music AlbumsFly Like An Eagle (Capitol)
Greatest Hits 1974-1978 (Capitol)