On this day in 1943, rocker Steve Miller was born in Milwaukee. Miller was one of San Francisco's leading blues-rockers in the '60s and he achieved worldwide acclaim as a pop-rocker with such '70s and '80s radio-mainstays as "The Joker" and "Abracadabra."
Miller was raised in Dallas, where his father, a pathologist, befriended the likes of Les Paul, Charles Mingus and T-Bone Walker. Miller received his first guitar lesson from the legendary Paul and, when he was 11 years old, jammed with Walker. Miller formed his first band, the Marksmen Combo, with his school friend Boz Scaggs (who also played in an early version of the Steve Miller Band). While the two attended Wisconsin University, they played in a R&B cover-band called the Ardells, which later became the Fabulous Knight Trains.
After leaving college, Miller moved to Chicago in 1964 to play with blues legends like Muddy Waters. He also teamed with Barry Goldberg in the Goldberg-Miller Blues Band.
Relocating to San Francisco, Miller formed the Steve Miller Blues Band, which built a local following and backed Chuck Berry at the Fillmore in 1967 for a famous gig, which was released as a live album. Following an appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival, Capitol signed the band. The critically praised Children of the Future (1968) was the first album by the Steve Miller Band, as the bandmembers now called themselves. Sailor (1968), featuring "Livin' in the U.S.A.," made #24 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, but Miller had trouble getting pop-radio airplay.
Despite receiving increasing radio-airplay with tracks like "Space Cowboy," Miller's career prospects seemed to dim when he broke his neck in a 1972 car accident. But he spent his recuperation-time writing more pop-oriented material for The Joker (1973), which spawned the #1 title track.
Miller took a hiatus and built his own studio to record Fly Like an Eagle (1976). The LP sold more than 4 million copies and yielded the #1 "Rock 'n Me" and other hits, such as "Take the Money and Run." Book of Dreams (1977) was recorded at the same sessions as its predecessor and sold almost as well with hit singles like "Jet Airliner."
Circle of Love (1981) was a relative commercial and critical letdown, but Abracadabra (1982) went top 5 and included the #1 title cut. However, Miller failed to create much excitement with his subsequent work, such as Living in the 20th Century (1986) and Wide River (1993).
But the Steve Miller Band's Greatest Hits (1978) is an ever-popular seller and the Steve Miller Band Box Set (1994), which included Miller's first recording -- as a 5-year-old -- was well-received. The Steve Miller Band continue to draw crowds worldwide on their frequent tours. Miller played on Paul McCartney's Flaming Pie (1997); McCartney, under the name Paul Ramon, had contributed to the 1969 Steve Miller Band album Brave New World.
Ska-rockers Sugar Ray covered "Abracadabra" for the upcoming soundtrack (Oct. 27) to the television show "Sabrina, The Teenage Witch."
Other birthdays: Richard Street (Temptations), 56; Brian Connolly (Sweet), 50; Brian Johnson (AC/DC), 50; Eddie Clarke (Motörhead, Fastway), 48; Bob Geldof, 44; Leo Barnes (Hothouse Flowers), 33; and Lee Thompson (Madness), 41.