2013 - Delaware State News
By Craig Horleman - Delaware State News
Apr 4, 2013 11:20AM
With his recently released R&B album “Memphis,” legendary singer-songwriter Boz Scaggshas his biggest hit in more than 30 years.
“Memphis” debuted at No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 200 when it hit shelves March 5 and it currently sits atop the Blues chart at No. 1. To find a more popular album, you have to go back to 1980 where “Middle Man” reached No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 200.
But while the success is nice, Mr. Scaggs said last week in a phone interview from his home in Napa County, Calif., that he doesn’t get caught up in the numbers game.
“It’s quite a nice surprise and I’m very happy about the debut,” he said.
“But at the same, I’m so out of touch with the charts and radio play. The record company seems generally happy about it and that’s great. But what makes the biggest impact on me is what my friends think about it and they really like it. So that’s actually what I’m most proud of.”
The 68-year-old Mr. Scaggs will bring not only songs from “Memphis” but also his string of hits from a nearly 50-year career to Dover Downs Hotel and Casino’s Rollins Center Friday night at 9.
His shaky prognostication of what will catch the ear of the public was also prevalent back in 1976 after he recorded what would become his biggest hit, “Lowdown” off of his multi-platinum album “Silk Degrees.”
“After we recorded it, we played it back in the control room and all thought it was our favorite song,” he said.
“We really thought it was the most satisfying to us of any on the album and how it was too bad it will never get on the radio. It was a little bit off the wall.
“And it was a while after the album came out that it got any traction. People don’t realize that it wasn’t released as a single. A radio station in Cleveland started it playing it and it took off from there.”
On “Memphis,” Mr. Scaggs has recorded both R&B classics, such as “Rainy Night in Georgia,” “Love On a Two-Way Street” and “Corinna Corinna,” along with a pair of originals.
Produced by Steve Jordan, a drummer who has worked with the likes of Keith Richard, John Mayer and Eric Clapton, the album was recorded at Willie Mitchell’s Royal Studio in Memphis, where the late Mr. Mitchell recorded the likes of Al Green, Chuck Berry and Ike and Tina Turner.
He said everything about the session felt right and went by quickly.
“It took us about five days to do,” he said.
“We recorded the songs in three days, laid down the horns and strings on the fourth day and did some additional vocals and packed up and went home on day 5.
“I think we knew it wouldn’t take long to do. We knew the cast of characters very well. Steve knew the room. You never know how it’s going until you get a couple of songs under your belt but it came up good.”
The genesis for the album came out of his work with Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen and The Doobie Brothers’ Michael McDonald. Together, they have recently been touring as The Dukes of September, performing their own songs and R&B classics.
“It had been on my mind for a while after working with Donald and Michael. Steve and I share the same kind of music in common and we both landed on the tracks we wanted to do and there really wasn’t much discussion,” he said.
Mr. Scaggs started his tour last month with a couple of shows in California. He says audience reaction to the new stuff has been satisfying.
“It’s playing very well. It’s difficult to know how much new stuff to throw at an audience that they may be unfamiliar with but the really seem to be going for it,” he said.
Born William Royce Scaggs in 1944 to the son of a traveling salesman in Dayton, Ohio, Mr. Scaggs spent his formative years in Oklahoma and then Texas. Reportedly, he got the name “Boz” from a schoolmate who first nicknamed him “Boswell” and was later shortened to “Boz”
He gained fame in the 1960s as a guitarist and occasional lead singer with the Steve Miller Band. A string of solo albums followed, including “Silk Degrees,” which also produced the hits “Lido Shuffle,” “What Can I Say” and “We’re All Alone,” which was later a hit for Rita Coolidge.
He then took much of the 1980s off after he said he ran out of creative energy. There was an eight-year gap between 1980’s “Middle Man” and his next album “Other Roads” and then more time passed until 1994’s “Some Change.”
“Most of my life I have been a musician and I just had other things in my life that needed attention,” said Mr. Scaggs, whose 21-year-old son died from a heroin overdose in 1988.
“Once my mind was cleared, I was drawn back to where I belong. If you talk to any musician, they will say they always have music running around their head. If you’re a real musician, you can’t stay way too long.”