Press-Telegraph - Boz Scaggs Interview
[Luanne J. Hunt - Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA) - July 6, 2000]
When Boz Scaggs takes a rare break from touring, writing and recording, the singer/songwriter finds time to fulfill his basic needs.
"I have a place in the country that I relax in, and I have a garden I take care of,'' said Scaggs, who will be appearing Friday at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. "Actually, it's a vineyard. Working in it gives me some sort of primal satisfaction.''
However, Scaggs confesses, nothing can soothe his soul like making the music that has made him a blues and pop music legend.
"There's nothing I'd rather do than be in the studio,'' said Scaggs. "I love producing and putting it all together.''
In between road gigs, Scaggs has been writing music and preparing to record a new CD.
"I've written most of the songs for the album,'' said Scaggs. "This tour is sort of a break from it, but I will take it up again when I get off the road.''
Once the CD is finished, Scaggs announced, he plans to expand his horizons.
"I'd like to go out with a small ensemble and play at more intimate places,'' he said. "I'd also like to produce a couple of other people.''
Born in Ohio in 1944, William Royce "Boz'' Scaggs was raised in Oklahoma and Texas. While growing up, he listened to rhythm and blues, which is the sound that influenced and shaped his music.
"It was just around where I grew up in Texas,'' said Scaggs. "I've always listened to R&B and have taken my cues from that.''
In 1959, Scaggs met guitarist Steve Miller while attending a prep school in Dallas. Boz joined Miller's group, the Marksmen, as a vocalist.
The band's career was short, but Scaggs and Miller reunited in 1965 when Scaggs joined the newly formed Steve Miller Band. The band's first two albums, "Children of the Future'' and "Sailor,'' were both commercially and critically successful.
Nine years later, Scaggs secured a record deal with Atlantic Records as a solo artist. Although his early Atlantic records received critical acclaim, the music failed to find its audience. Finally, in 1974, Boz's album "Silk Degrees'' hit the mark. It featured the Top Three single "Lowdown'' and the mega-hit "Lido Shuffle,'' as well as "Harbor Lights.''
Scaggs' 1977 release, ``Down Two, Then Left,'' sold well enough to keep him on the charts. His 1980 release, "Middle Man,'' reached Top Ten status and produced the hit singles "Breakdown Dead Ahead'' and "Jo Jo.''
After a long hiatus during the 1980s and early '90s, Scaggs began touring again in 1995.
"I sort of look forward to it every year,'' said Scaggs. "I am really enjoying it.''
Part of what attracts Scaggs to performing is having the opportunity to put a fresh spin on his old tunes.
"I have a new band and we're taking a new approach,'' said Scaggs. "It's a little more live and reminds me of how my own band sounded when I started playing in the '70s.
"I am also doing new arrangements on some of the music I've been playing on and off for some time.''
Although Scaggs' concerts continue to attract his older fans, he reports he is seeing more and more young faces in the crowds.
"I've found that kids in my son's age group of 18-24 are interested in what I'm doing, too,'' said Scaggs. "There seems to be a renewed interest in rhythm and blues.''
Scaggs admits his enthusiasm for his beloved rhythm and blues will never wane.
"I always incorporate it into what I do,'' he said. "But I'd like to think my music has evolved. It comes from a different point of view because I am older. And I've got a whole lot of new ideas to try. There's a big spectrum of music right now, and it's an exciting time.''
Luanne J. Hunt is an Ontario free-lance writer.
Copyright (c) 2000 Press-Telegram