Melody Maker - Boz Scaggs Interview

[By: Colin Irwin - July 5, 1980]

Boz Scaggs graced our fair capital last week, dropping off en route to an Italian beach with his wife and kids. Mindful of the relative non-existence of recent royalties from Britain, he agreed to hang around just long enough to meet a few people who might write something about him.

We found him in a swanky suite at the Inn On The Park in an amiable mood, offering coffee and answering our questions with solemn consideration. An animated talker he isn't and the combination of a heavy lunch-time and the monotonous drone of his voice nearly had us dozing off a couple of times, but he told us very earnestly that he wants to tour Britain later in the year and is very anxious to cultivate the British market.

Can't see why when you make a fortune in the States...

"I do need Britain, though, not for financial reasons but because I feel interested in what's going on here. I've had so much input in the last week just by the vibe, maybe it's just being in the streets, but things have happened from which I can draw material. Like, I was passing through New York and I met a guy who gave me some South American records which have been a real eye-opener to me. Now that's something I want to use in my own work now, see?"

Ineed we did, and asked him about the bland California music with which he is indelibly associated in this country. To his immense credit he didn't throw coffee over us but answered with painstaking care, saying something about being well aware of the risks of being cocooned in California, which was why he was always interested to hear other areas of music, and hoped there was always enough input to sustain his own development.

"I don't feel I'm in the avant-garde of Western culture but there is development. I always feel there's a danger of becoming insulated and stagnant if you don't move. If I didn't have to meet certain demands of touring and making records then I could become very complacent and end up staying at home, and that'd be so boring."

To the question of what sort of music he was currently listening to which might give him this vital input, he got a bit fidgety and ummed and erred a bit. He expressed unqualified admiration for Ry Cooder and announced that discovering the Pretenders was one of the most refreshing things that had happened to him recently, just as finding the Cars has been two years ago. He also mentioned the Fabulous Thunderbirds and the Inmates.

"R&B music is kinda stale to me now," he said.

"I'm getting back to guitar playing and to me that means the blues. What I do is a refinement of things I hear. I grew up listening to the radio, hearing the Beatles and the Beach Boys and BB King. T.Bone Walker, Howling Wolf and Henry Mancini, and I'm a product of all that."

As we parted I said I hoped he'd get that British tour together fairly soon. "Oh yes," he said gushingly "I sure hope so, I really do."

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