Boz Scaggs Interview - National Rock Star

Boz Scaggs Second Bite of Cake

November 20, 1976 - By David Hancock

Heard the one about Boz Scaggs ? He conducts all his interviews in stereo. 'Strue, you whip out a large tape recorder and before you can say Stevie "Mr Guitar" Miller old Boz has pulled one out too.

Yeah, the guy who's been bouncing round with Peter Frampton at the top of the U.S. albums chart doesn't miss a trick.

But then this is William Royce Scaggs' second bite of the fame cake, and the cool, debonair and very self-assured gentleman has no intention of spitting this one out - not like he did with Steve Miller.

Scaggs has always followed his own inclinations, and likewise has always had a cult following in this country since he played on Miller's album "Children of the Future" back in 1968.

National Rock Star Magazine

And when he penned the two killer cuts "Overdrive" and "Dime A Dance Romance" on the classic follow-up outing "Sailor" it seemed Boz and Stevie were the new team.

So, of course, Scaggs promptly left the band.

But he relates "I never considered myself a part of that era of San Francisco music at all. The Steve Miller Band was as far apart from the Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead and the Quick-silver Messenger Service type of pure San Francisco sound as any kind of music I can think of."

That's how he puts it, but really it was Scaggs' music that didn't synch into the Frisko freak out era.

The first side of "Children of the Future" is good trippy stuff - a fine hallucination.

The second side is raunchy, down to earth R&B and none better than Scaggs' "Steppin Stone".

It has to be remembered that Miller and Scaggs started out in the same Texas Blues band, The Marksmen - but were later to be split asunder by their individual interpretations of that blues sound.

"After 'Sailor' I decided to continue my interest in the studio doing my own songs which is pretty much what I had done with 'Sailor'. There were my songs and I did 'em and then there were Steve's songs and he did his, and maybe we'd never see each other for days.

Steve and Me:

"There was personal disharmony between Steve and myself in the way that he wanted to do the band and the way I did", continues Scaggs.

"I must say that Steve and I had been good friends up to that point for about 9 years and we still are to this day."It's just that sometimes in that close a contact we were at odds."

The split was inevitable. And its ironic that eight years later Scaggs and Miller should both have singles in the British chart.

Scaggs began to groove on the more soulful side of R&B, recording is first solo album in Muscle Shoals with Duane Allman in on the session. Other albums followed, two of them - "Moments" and "Boz Scaggs & Band" - being produced by Glyn Johns, who had worked on the first two Steve Miller albums

Critical acclaim was big, the cult following ever-growing, but the commercial success elusive.

Scaggs' years in the wilderness were marked by his preoccupation with songs by Allen Toussaint.

Both tapes record: "That came from when I was 13 years old.  Allen Toussaint was a hero. Steve and I had our own band and listened to T-Bone Walker, B.B. King, Ray Charles and Jimmy Reed and then there was a New Orleans influence - Huey "Piano" Smith and The Clowns, Aaron Neville and of course Toussaint.

"I've done an Allen Toussaint song on each album but I've never met him. It's strange, of all the musical people I know in the States I've never come across Allen."

Strange indeed, but even stranger is the fact that this urbane, sophisticated (well just dig that pic) poseur claims he never set out to be a "white man sings the blues".

He sips a little champagne: "After leaving Steve I wasn't trying to be accepted for anything at all.  I was just glad to be out of the band.

"The early records didn't sell, but it didn't matter because I had royalties coming in from songs I'd written with Steve. I just get along.  I've lived fairly comfortably throughout the whole time. I've never been rich or wealthy on a big level. And I'm not now.

His eventual breakthrough came in 1974 with the Johnny Bristol produced "Slow Dancer" album which suffers greatly from an over abundance of Bristolisms - even down to a couple of tracks in which Scaggs' voice is a dead ringer for Johnny's.

"It's true Johnny helped me with a lot of the phrasing on that album and I learned a lot from him," rolls off the tapes.

O.K. but it was producer Joe Wissert on "Silk Degrees" that found the magic in Boz and Scaggs is sticking with him for the next album too.

Even though his time has come, this man still takes it all very easily;  "I've been through many facets of the business in the last four or five years, used a lot of musicians, pretty much managed my own affairs and my career has taken a good turn.

"If you'd asked me what I'd like to achieve about a year ago then I'd say a broader acceptance so I can do the shows I like to do on a wider scale, and that has happened now.

"I've gotten some place musically with "Silk Degrees", now I need to go out more and do more concerts. I've wanted to perform in London for years and years but it hasn't come about. I'll be doing it next year.

But if you think we're going to get the pleasure of hearing Scaggs' permanent band - forget it. He hasn't got one. Like old time buddy Miller, he changes 'em as he goes along.

"My normal band is a 12 piece with synthesisers for the strings. I play piano, I play guitar and run around the stage and jump on the piano sometimes but we don't get into theatrics per se.

"On given occasions we do use a 30 or 40 piece band with full orchestral strings.

"Tasteful, eh ? Just like the man himself.

He starts work on a new album as soon as he gets back to the States and it'll contain about 80 percent of his own material. It should be out about March.

Boz (incidentally he got the nickname at school when he was 14 years old) is the anti-thesis of a rock star and comes on as the kind of a guy to whom Andy Williams might give a nod of approval.  But his albums sing his volumes of talent.

A final stereophonic word about Steve Miller. Your tape Boz.

"I follow his work and have a great deal of respect for it, but for the most part I would have done it differently.

"If he'd only let me produce his albums he could really be a star." Hey, the guy's got humour too.

>Site Map >INTERVIEWS >1970 Interviews >1976 - Ntnl RockStar