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Boz Scaggs Interview - The News & Observer

It feels like he's just getting started


Charles Sykes Photo - AP
Boz Scaggs, who became a pop success 35 years ago, still performs, touring with his friends and making up for the years in the '80s when he resisted performing.

Boz Scaggs, who became a pop success 35 years ago, still performs, touring with his friends and making up for the years in the '80s when he resisted performing.

BY ED CONDRAN - Correspondent/The News & Observer
July 15, 2011

Boz Scaggs has made a career by taking chances.

A pop sensation 35 years ago thanks to his breakthrough release, "Silk Degrees," the laid-back performer has rocked out with Steve Miller and gone the blues route with Charles Brown.

He tried standards in 2003 with the gorgeous "But Beautiful," which scaled the jazz charts, and he followed with the underheralded sensual and sometime sober project, "Speak Low," in 2008.

"I've always liked to challenge myself," Scaggs says. "I never liked to just do the same old thing."

Scaggs, 67, has evolved, and perhaps his fan base has done the same. "Maybe the audience I had then (a generation ago) has matured like myself and are into listening to these type of songs," Scaggs says of his recent recordings. "I still love what I do. I feel so much excitement when I play live. In some ways it reminds me of the days when I was getting started in this business."

During the '60s, Scaggs was a rhythm guitarist and vocalist with the Steve Miller Band. Miller and Scaggs had played together since their college days in Wisconsin.

Scaggs' solo career began in 1971 with his self-titled album. But his slick, romantic soulful rock didn't connect with the masses until "Silk Degrees," which includes the top five Billboard hit "Lowdown." That song made him a superstar in 1976.

"Down Two Then Left," released in 1977, and 1980's "Middle Man" were disappointments. For much of the '80s,' Scaggs took a hiatus to focus on, among other things, his San Francisco club, Slim's. "I regret not having kept up performing and touring, which is something I've always enjoyed," Scaggs says. "I didn't have any music in me at that point, but it wasn't that I had to write. I could have stayed on course by performing, but I didn't."

Scaggs, who will co-headline Friday with Michael McDonald at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre, resurfaced in 1988 and recorded "Other Roads," but it wasn't easy. His record label at the time, Columbia, was filled with new faces and a new attitude.

"The regime changed," Scaggs says. "When they heard what I was doing, I was told to write new songs. I was told to write some singles. I never heard that before. After I recorded that album, it was best for me to leave that label."

Virgin records signed Scaggs to a deal, and he recorded three solid adult contemporary albums, 1994's "Some Change," 1997's "Come On Home" and 2001's "Dig."

Being his own Boz

Scaggs has moved on from Virgin. He's recording, touring solo and with his pals McDonald and Donald Fagen of Steely Dan, in a group known as the Dukes of September. He is following his heart. "It's a good place to be," he says.

 

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