- Singer, songwriter and guitarist born William Scaggs in Canton Ohio in 1944.
- Scaggs’ family moved to Texas when he was a child. He learned the guitar at the age of twelve, and he was a school friend soon-to-be rock star Steve Miller. Miller asked him to be the vocalist in his band the Marksmen when Scaggs was 15 years old. Later, both Scaggs and Miller went to college in Wisconsin, performing together in blues bands. Scaggs dropped out of school in 1963 and moved back to Texas, forming a band called the Wigs. The band moved to London, hoping to catch a break, but it quickly disbanded, and Scaggs played on street corners in Europe.
- In 1965 he was signed to a recording contract in Sweden, and his debut album Boz was released. The album went out of print soon after its release. In 1967, he returned to the U.S. and settled in San Francisco, where his friend Steve Miller was performing. He joined Miller’s band, and Scaggs performed on the first two albums released by the Steve Miller Band, playing guitar, singing and getting songwriter credit on several songs.
- In 1968, Scaggs began a solo career, getting a recording contract with the help of Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner. From 1969 to 1974 he released five studio album, and while critics liked his blues rock sound, he failed to find an audience amongst record buyers. He finally had his breakthrough in 1976 when he released Silk Degrees. The album used session musicians that became the band Toto the following year. The album reached #2 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and it was certified 5x platinum. Four singles charted, with Lido Shuffle peaking at #11 on the Hot 100, and Lowdown reaching #3.
- Lowdown was a surprise hit for Scaggs. It wasn’t planned to be released as a single, but a DJ in Cleveland started to play it directly from the album, and the response from listeners was positive, so the label decided to take a chance and release it. Scaggs admitted that it was his favorite song from the album, but “there wasn’t a chance in hell” that it would be released as a single. Nice decision – Lowdown won the Grammy award for Best R&B Song in 1977.
- Two more albums were released in the next few years – Down Two Then Left in 1977 and Middle Man in 1980. Both were certified platinum. Middle Man included two singles that charted in the Top 20 – Breakdown Dead Ahead and JoJo. Scaggs contributed a song to the soundtrack of the film Urban Cowboy – Look What You’ve Done To Me reached #14 on the Hot 100 and #3 on the Adult Contemporary chart. A compilation Greatest Hits album was released in 1980 that included a previously unreleased single, Miss Sun, that peaked at #14 on the Hot 100.
- Scaggs went into semi-retirement during the 80s, owing and operating a nightclub in San Francisco and performing only at the club’s New Year’s Eve event. He resurfaced again in 1988, releasing the Other Roads album. One single was successful from the album – Heart of Mine reached #35 on the Hot 100 and #3 on the Adult Contemporary Chart. Entering the 90s, he worked with the New York Rock and Soul Revue, and then he released three studio albums. Since 2000, Scaggs released six more studio albums, evolving his style to vocal jazz and blues. Many of the songs were covers of pop, jazz and blues standards, and the albums were highly rated by critics. His 2018 album Out of the Blues was nominated for a Grammy award in the Best Contemporary Blues Album category.
- Scaggs is approaching his late 70s, but he still tours, with dozens of concerts scheduled for 2022. I though Silk Degrees was cool, and it’s in my collection (see my blog on the album in the “Vintage Vinyl” section from September 9, 2017). Here’s a 2004 performance of Lowdown – very yacht rock here!
1 thought on “Boz Scaggs”
You think you know Boz? Check out some of his Blues work, way before the Yacht rock stuff. See link for one of my top 50 songs of all time.