Steve Miller Band
Steve Miller's astro-blues psychedelia and frat house theme songs have become the sort of classic rock music that seems absurd and irrelevant one day and the work of pure '70s genius the next, depending which side of the bong you wake up on. As a child, Miller got his initial guitar lessons from Les Paul; by the age of 21 he was gigging around the San Francisco blues scene. When Chuck Berry came to town in 1967, the fledgling Steve Miller Blues Band played behind him in a set released as Berry's Live at the Fillmore Auditorium. While not exactly experimental, Miller's early work was far more spacey and strange than the music he's most known for. In 1973 Miller put out The Joker, a smash hit that made him a household name and yielded the goofy title cut that has since become a perverse mantra for Ray Ban-wearing, pangenerational jerk-offs across the world. Fly Like an Eagle followed in 1976, and Book of Dreams in '77, records that ensured him a spot on FM radio playlists for years to come. But Miller's music hasn't always been strictly commercial, and his obvious respect for his forefathers often lends the songs credibility. From the pumped-up Chuck Berry/Brian Wilson sound of "Rock'n Me" to the sheer cocaine buzz of his '82 comeback single "Abracadabra," Miller's influences are never hard to identify, and they're good, too. It doesn't matter whether you consider his music fake blues or if you get off on the bedrock riffs and trippy falsetto; Steve Miller still sells out open-air arenas, and his best songs have more to offer than any of the jam rock bands his music spawned.