This week on Masters in Business I sit down with Steve Miller — yes, that Steve Miller of the Steve Miller band.
An odd series of circumstances led to this interview — some time ago, I saw John Pizzarelli playing at the Tilles Center — great show, jazz +American songbook classics. Afterwards, people lined up to get their CDs signed, and I said something obnoxious to my wife about how I would never do anything so prosaic or fanboyish.
To which my better half replied, “Yeah, its not like you have a radio show you might want to invite him to appear on.”
So I buy a CD, get on line, wait 40 minutes — then introduce myself. He was charming and gracious and as you know, eventually ended up doing a great segment on the show.
Fast forward a year, and I am seeing Lawrence Juber (Paul McCartney’s guitarist) playing a date in NYC. After the show, I see him, tell him about the show, and eventually he comes on — and plays a few a songs as well).
What does that have to do with this week’s show? Late in Juber’s set, he brings up Steve Miller to sing happy birthday to his wife, and to play The Joker. One thing leads to another, and this week’s show features Steve Miller.
He tells about meeting the Stones, Beatles, and other greats of the 1960s, recording with Paul McCartney, and why the first take is always the best one.
We discuss how the music business used to be unfair to musicians — and how much worse its gotten today courtesy of technology. The tech companies are making money on the artists, who make almost nothing on streaming services. We discuss why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is not fulfilling its cultural purpose, and how the founders need to step aside and let some new blood in.
Steve also tells the personal story how his career almost ended — his record contract was coming to a close, and while he sold some albums, he never had a hit single. “I thought my career was over” he said.
Then he released The Joker, and the rest was history
(check out Steve’s favorite music books after the jump)
Steve Miller’s favorite books on Music & Musicians
In Other Words: Artists Talk About Life and Work by Anthony DeCurtis
Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick
Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll by Peter Guralnick
How Music Got Free: A Story of Obsession and Invention by Stephen Witt
I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons
Been There, Done That: An Autobiography by Eddie Fisher