Steve Miller grew up in a musical family and received his first guitar lesson from his father’s friend, guitarist Les Paul. When Steve was seven years old, he was allowed to stay home from school the day T-Bone Walker came to play for one of his parents’ parties. Walker showed the young guitarist how to play single-line solos. His first group, The Marksmen, drew their repertoire from the songbooks of Bobby Bland, Jimmy Reed, Bill Doggett and the other R&B stars of the day. During high school, Miller showed his friend Boz Scaggs a few chords on guitar and the rudiments of harmony vocals and Scaggs joined the band.
Miller was drawn to the blues scene of Chicago, where he met Howlin’ Wolf playing in nightclubs and shared the bandstand with Muddy Waters. His own Goldberg Miller Blues Band took over for the pioneering Paul Butterfield Blues Band at Big John’s, where the college crowd met. The band signed with Epic Records and appeared on TV’s “Hullabaloo” with the Supremes and the Four Tops. He decided to pack up a used Volkswagen bus, leave Chicago and head to San Francisco. After a brief stint of living in his VW, he formed a band and within weeks, he landed a $500 date at the Avalon Ballroom and the Steve Miller Band was launched. The Miller band appeared on bills at concerts with the Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Quicksilver Messenger Service and all the acid-rock bands. He played on the Saturday afternoon program of the Monterey International Pop Festival in June 1967, just before the public debut of the new group by ex-Butterfield guitarist Mike Bloo0mfield, Electric Flag. His band’s performances that summer backing ‘50s rock and roller Chuck Berry at the Fillmore led to a live album together. His high school pal Boz Scaggs arrived in fall 1967 to play rhythm guitar in the group.
His album "Sailor" featured the Miller classic, "Livin' In the U.S.A" and also introduced Miller as "The Gangster of Love" with his version of the Johnny “Guitar” Watson original. The next album, "Brave New World," featured Miller as "Space Cowboy."
After a car accident coupled with frustration about where his music was going, he decided to take off for a while. Eventually, Miller realized the gift of his own life in music and started over again. He gathered a band and entered the hallowed studios in the basement of the Capitol Tower in Hollywood. In nineteen days, Miller emerged with an album, “The Joker.” Given the sorry reception his records had almost uniformly received from Top 40 radio on all his previous albums, Miller never thought about hit singles, but “The Joker” was an instant anthem, a breakthrough smash that shot all the way to No. 1. He chased the chart success with another year of endless concerts and returned home to find the first substantial check he ever earned in the music business waiting for him in his mailbox. He immediately notified his astonished booking agent that he would be taking some time off, a year at least. Miller bought a hilltop home surrounded by property on the remote edge of Marin County. He installed an eight-track studio in his living room. He spent the next year and a half writing, recording and polishing the pieces that would compose his album “Fly Like An Eagle”. The first single, “Take the Money and Run”, hit the charts in May 1976, the first of six consecutive smashes – “Rock ‘n Me,” “Fly Like an Eagle,” “Jet Airliner,” “Jungle Love,” “Swingtown” -- that would keep the Steve Miller Band in the Top Ten beyond the next two years. He followed the multi-million-selling “Fly Like An Eagle,” while the album still hovered high in the charts, with “Book of Dreams” almost a year to the day later. He began the “Fly Like an Eagle” tour at the same small theaters he played as the hitless wonder and king of FM underground rock. By the next summer, he was playing football stadiums. At the height of the classic rock movement, the Steve Miller Band was one of the defining figures. His 1978 album, “Greatest Hits 1974-78,” became one of the best-selling releases of all-time, selling millions every year through the end of the century.
In the intervening years, a new radio format called classic rock swept the radio dial in every city, with the Steve Miller Band records front and center on all the playlists. Miller’s return to performing was greeted by a new generation of fans. The Steve Miller Band has become one of the centerpiece attractions of the summer rock concert season, playing sixty or more shows every year. He is the Gangster of Love. Some people call him Maurice, the Midnight Toker or the Space Cowboy. And with “Let Your Hair Down,” a masterpiece album by one of the greats, Steve Miller shows he still speaks of the pompitus of love.