The Examiner - Boz Scaggs Interview

[By: Jane Ganahl - October 3, 1997]

WITH TWO big events looming, Boz Scaggs is busy preparing for both.

"I'm sorry about that noise; I'm having a few things done to the house in advance of the rain this winter," he says by phone from his Napa weekend home. In the background are the sounds of hammers. The specter of El Nino looms.

The venerable rocker - on tour since March - is also busy rehearsing some new material, in preparation for an eight-night run at the Fillmore that starts Friday. "I'm going to get into some older stuff; vary it night to night," says the smooth-talking 53-year-old singer/guitarist. "It'll be good to explore the back pages."

Scaggs is another performer who in the last year opted to play several dates at the Fillmore rather than one date at a larger venue. Tom Petty played nearly two dozen earlier in the year; Crosby, Stills and Nash recently played a week's worth.

"I like the sound in the Fillmore, and I love the history," says Scaggs, who also maintains a home in The City. "It's a comfortable room and very special."

Scaggs' more familiar tie is to Slim's, the South of Market nightclub he founded more than a decade ago. He still has a studio across the alley and ambles over often to hear soundchecks of up and coming bands.

"That's my way of staying current," he says, while admitting that he keeps his own stereo stocked with CDs by '50s and '60s jazz artists, Brazilian music and Spanish guitar.

The Texas-born Scaggs says he feels relatively unaffected by the hoopla surrounding the Summer of Love.

"I arrived after the Summer of Love and before the Winter of Discontent," he laughs. "I always felt like an outsider; I was only here for a few months and never as a part of some movement."

He hooked up quickly with Steve Miller - someone he'd known in high school - and recorded two records with his band before going solo. A series of records, including

"Boz Scaggs," "Slow Dancer" and "Moments," led to his breakthrough "Silk Degrees," a classic of '70s pop-rock.

After a few more albums, Scaggs took a break of almost eight years, noting that music had become "like a business" that had lost some of its appeal. He regained interest when he joined up with Donald Fagan's Rock and Soul Revue in 1992, and in 1994, released his return album, "Some Change," to critical plaudits. (Rolling Stone said Scaggs was "profligate in his command of styles both raw and sophisticated.")

Just recently, Scaggs released "Come on Home" on Virgin Records - his tribute to "some of the great R&B singers and musicians." On the CD are 10 covers of classic tunes by the likes of Jimmy Reed, T-Bone Walker and Bobby "Blue" Bland, plus four new Scaggs creations.

"It was wonderful to revisit some of this material," he says, "and it took pressure off me to do my own songs; I was able to just sing other people's. The only hard part was choosing which ones."

To pick, Scaggs reviewed hundreds of possible songs.

"Ultimately, I chose the songs I like to sing the most."

Doing a cover album doesn't imply that Scaggs is ready to put himself out to pasture. Far from it.

"There are still a lot of musical areas for me to explore. I've really enjoyed playing with this (tour) band, for example. In the next album I want to capture that sound."

Scaggs is happy to be finishing his tour around his home base. "It's great to be winding down the tour, and great to be doing it at home."

The former rock heartthrob is married and has two sons (19 and 20) by a previous marriage. They are both in the music business - one as a bass player and one in a studio - in the Bay Area, and Scaggs says he's proud of them.

"I told them about the realities of the music world, and they are still going for it," he says. "I know what all musicians want - especially at that age - is encouragement, so that's what I try to give."

Scaggs says he has no plans to move away from the Bay Area - ever. "Ever since I was a kid I dreamed of moving to San Francisco," he says. "And when I finally did, it took a while for me to fall in love with it. But this is my home now."

>HOME >INTERVIEWS >1990 Interviews >1997 - The Examiner