Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Some People Call Me Maurice

Listening to "Jet Airliner" on the car radio this afternoon, I realized that I have no idea what Steve Miller looks like. This is highly unusual for someone who was one of the biggest music stars of the 1970s - Miller and his eponymous band had three Number Ones, two other Top Ten hits, and three other Top Forty hits between 1973 and 1982. Yet I have a stronger mental image of Randy Van Warmer than I do of Steve Miller.

The only one of his albums from his most fecund period to feature his picture on the cover was Fly Like an Eagle, and he's throwing his head on that one, with hair covering half his face, so it's hard to get a handle on what he looks like. And maybe that's Steve on the cover of The Joker, but who knows.

The only video of his I recall seeing was a late one for "Living in the U.S.A.," which was just anonymous scenes shot around an amusement park. I never saw the Steve Miller Band on The Midnight Special, or Don Kirshner's Rock Concert, or Saturday Night Live, or anything like that. I don't know why.

The biggest problem is that Miller has a lumpy, proletarian facelessness to him - he's from Milwaukee, after all. Now that I've found a photo of him, I realize I have seen him before, but I'm sure I forgot what he looks like five minutes later. Here he is:


Scraps said...

I remember a video for the awful "Abracadabra". It's what you would expect if you gave a hack video director a song called "Abracadabra".

Scraps said...

T. Nawrocki said...

Well, the video lives up to the song.

Note that Steve Miller appears only in still photos, always with his eyes covered. He must have both been shy, and been aware that he wasn't attractive.

Kinky Paprika said...

I didn't think Steve Miller's appearance was that much of a mystery.
A couple of the pre-"Joker" Miller Band records feature band pictures with Miller front and center; and two of his albums ("Rock Love" and "Recall the Beginning") have full front-cover pix of him.

On the other hand, if you're not a Miller fan, you probably never owned any of those records.

People say Paul McCartney is dead.
But I have always suspected it was Steve Miller who secretly kicked the oxygen habit sometime around 1970, to be replaced from there on out by an infinitely less creative and less interesting stand-in.

MJN said...

In 1982, someone at WTBS took that "Abracadabra" video and made it into a celebration of the Braves' surprisingly successful season. They interspliced various highlights of game action into the video; e.g., a diving catch by Brett Butler or somebody during "reach out and grab ya." It was just dreadful, even worse than the original.

tony s said...

According to an old Casey Kasem program I heard in the 1980s, Steve Miller deliberately tried not to put images of his face on his LPs because "he wanted to be known for his music not his face."

In Creem magazine circa 1981, Rush drummer Neal Peart said pretty much the same thing ("We're not selling ourselves!").

You can take this as face value or take it to mean: "We're not attractive, so we need a different approach."

Anyone remember when Heart used to hide Ann Wilson behind props in their videos, because she got so chubby?

Repoz said...

Back in '73 at the old Academy in NYC...I saw a Steve Miller Band/Foghat/Rick Roberts show (hey, it was the ludes era).

Foghat over-stayed/over-played their endless boogie crap which sent the downer crowd into a mindless frenzy.

A ticked off Steve Miller came out and ripped on Foghat for a minute or so and then proceded to play the entire short set of I'll-show-em boogie music...WHILE LAYING ON HIS BACK!

And you never really saw his face!