Rock legend Steve Miller on his first new album in 17 years -- and why record companies are full of 'clowns.'

Steve-MillerImage Credit: Ralph Notaro/Getty ImagesTomorrow Steve Miller will release Bingo!, his first studio album in 17 years. Why has the once prolific rocker been silent for so long? Let’s just say he wasn’t exactly overjoyed with the way his record label handled the release of his 1993 collection, See Hear. “I said, ‘I’ve f—ing had it with these clowns,'” recalls the man who brought us “The Joker” and “Take the Money and Run.” “‘Go ahead and drive it right into the ground, man! You guys are finished anyway. I’m not going to give you any of my time.'”

Speak your mind, Steve! “Oh, I always do,” he chuckles. “Don’t worry, there won’t be any pussyfooting around!”

Miller’s return to recording was prompted by a remark made to him by his longtime friend, the engineer and producer Andy Johns. “I was working on a DVD and Andy was going to mix it,” says Miller. “He said, ‘You know, before I die, I want to do a blues album with you, Steve.’ So I took the band over to the studio at the Skywalker Ranch. We have 28 songs in the can and we’re splitting it into two CDs.”

On Bingo!, Miller covers a raft of blues-flavored hits, including BB King’s “Rock Me Baby” and Earl King’s “Come On.” He also tackles a clutch of tracks from Jimmie Vaughan’s 1994 album, Strange Pleasure. “I just love Jimmie,” says Miller. “He’s my favorite blues guitar player of everybody playing today. He’s my man. I prefer him to his brother [the late Stevie Ray Vaughan]. I can show you pictures of me and Jimmie Vaughan playing onstage with bands full of really great musicians. And he’s hitting one note, and everybody on the whole f—ing stage is looking straight at him like, ‘What did he say?’ He’s heavy, man.”

Vaughan is far from the only bluesman whose prowess Miller has witnessed up close. In the early ’60s, he moved from his native Texas to Chicago where he became a mainstay of the blues clubs. For a spell he even played in the band of  legendary blues guitarist Buddy Guy who, according to Miller, insisted his musicians imbibe something a tad stronger than soda before hitting the stage. “The rule was you had to have a shot of bourbon before each set,” says Miller. “I’m like 21, and I sounds good to me: ‘Okay!’ We worked from nine until four in the morning, and we worked six nights a week. After about three weeks I just said, ‘Buddy, I can’t do this any more. You’re going to kill me!'”

Bingo! is being released through Miller’s own Space Cowboy label in partnership with Roadrunner/Loud & Proud Records. The guitarist says he did investigate the possibility of putting the CD out on a major but that the experience merely served as a reminder of why he divorced himself from the record industry in the first place. “We were in New York talking to some people at a major record company,” he recalls.  “And these young guys said, ‘Man, this is great! Did Steve write all these?’ I felt like saying, ‘Yes I did. And I’d like to play you my new ballad… ‘Unchained Melody!'”

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Comments (28 total) Add your comment
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  • who cares

    love it! get em Steve, you’re a classic

    • StarHorn

      If there was enough talent to fill the void, the so called “aged rockers” wouldn’t have the space to remind us what true talent really is.

      • jesse

        And what is “true talent” to you?

      • Crusty Fart

        True Talent is not fabricated by Disney nor does it come from bubble gum TV shows like American Idol or Glee. There are some good talented musicians out there today but the music today reminds me of the pop 1970s. Lots of music no one is going to care about in 10 years.

  • ®ustymustdie

    great…just what we needed. another aged rocker boring us with their renditions of songs no one gives two sh¡ts about. I was excited at first thinking he had something new up his sleeve, but this is a complete waste. Thanks for nothing steve.

    • Stevex

      You obviously wouldn’t know quality music if it smacked you right in the mouth. You may now return to your Justin Bieber CD, leave the rest of us in peace.

      • ®ustymustdie

        if I knew who Justing Beeber was I might be offended. The fact that you do make me think you might want to come out of the closet.

  • Shelby

    Steve Miller is so overrated. Abra Cadabra is one of the worst songs ever written.

    • jesse

      Did you read why he stopped recording? Think about it!

    • Hans M.

      What??? That song is freaking cool as hell!

  • billk

    “songs no one gives two s**ts about”? Somebody needs some musical education. This might be the first new CD I’ve bought in a few years. Hope Steve tours with this album too.

    • jesse

      I’m with you!

  • Jerry Colvin

    You know, the term “p—yfooting” really does refer to cats, so it’s kind of ridiculous to bleep it in your story. I doubt anybody would have been offended to see the entire word.

    • Dictionary

      Thanks, Jerry. I just posted a similar comment but I think I was censored since I dared to spell the entire word.

      • Hans M.

        Yeah, what about Eno and Fripp’s classic ambient collaboration from 1973, No Vaginafooting (title altered to protect cat lovers)? We can’t talk about its importance in rock and roll history by its true name?

  • Jules

    Saw Steve Miller at the Tower Theatre in Philadelphia back in 1974. The Joker had just come out and he was on tour. All I can say is, one of the best concerts I’ve ever been too.

    • jesse

      I forgot where it was. The Tower in Philly, right? Saw the same show somewhere else. Out west. Can’t remember; but, i think it was OK City. Could have been Memphis. Any thoughts?

      • Jules

        It could’ve been anywhere. He toured pretty extensively for that album. I saw him a couple years later at the Spectrum for the Fly Like An Eagle tour. He always put a great show.

  • jesse

    Steves’ earlier albums (from #5 and earlier) were a mainstay for all of us old hippies, depending where you were at the time. Let the man play what he wants. He’s earned it. I’ll buy it in a heartbeat. As soon as I see it, it’s going home with me!

  • Loki

    You tell ‘em Steve! Screw the labels. And keep rockin’ me baby!

  • Keith M.

    As a member of the baby-boom generation, it is fair to say that the creative artists and talented performers of our youth have entered middle-age with us(those who have lived to see life as you approach being older) and accepted the fact the hard work of youth has a value that allows people to relax as you grow older. It is my perception that when you are young, you have an energy and creativity that is powerful and beautiful, but is limited by time and age. The greatest and most wonderful artistic creations are products of the folly and beauty of youth. Whatever Steve Miller chooses to do with music, or, for that matter his life, is his business. He has earned the right.

  • Peter Arponen

    Dust off your old albums, and discocer that you have something from a legend! JUSt beacause somebody was popular for a few years and made loads of bucks,way back when harldy makes him a “legend”. On those terms their all legends. Just last week was the demise of some country singer, with a passion for slaughtering hogs, was termed a legend. This overworked word means nothing anymore, so why use it. Speaking of which, I sure wouldn’t want to see this this old farmer. Man, we must have reached the pinnicale of old age looking at that photo of grandpa Miller!

    • Jules

      My Father said the same thing to me 40 years ago. If you don’t like his music, fine, but don’t pretend to judge his stuff based on the crap that’s put out today.

  • stan

    I’m on board for this one. This won’t be a “3 chord album!”

  • El Charlito

    Hell yeah Stevie M! Get back to your roots and jam, my friend

  • Hans M.

    First Radiohead calling majors obsolete, now Steve Miller is saying screw ‘em. Good for them. Idiots in offices crunching numbers know nothing about real art. It’s got to be about a passion to record and release music.

  • Robert Burns

    The 1993 album was called Wide River.

  • Eric Sutter

    Lay off Steve… the man is a music legend. He plays his heart out and always delivers!

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