Boz Scaggs





William Royce Scaggs was born June 8th, 1944 in Canton, Ohio to Royce and Helen Scaggs. His father was a traveling salesman who flew in the Air Force in WW2. Early on, the family moved to Oklahoma, then settled in the Dallas suburb of Plano, Texas. From an early age, Boz loved music, and the first musical instrument he learned to play was the cello at the age of nine.

Having received a scholarship to attend St. Mark's academy in Dallas. It was there he met Steve Miller, who helped him learn to play the guitar. It was also at this school where he picked up the name "Bosley" by someone who kept addressing him that way. Hence, William became known as Boz.

After joining Miller's group "the Marksmen" as a vocalist in 1959, the pair later attended the University of Wisconsin together, playing in blues bands like "the Ardells" and "the Fabulous Knight Trains". In 1963, Scaggs returned to Dallas alone, fronting an R&B unit dubbed "the Wigs". After relocating to England, the group promptly disbanded, and two of its members - John Andrews and Bob Arthur - soon formed "Mother Earth". Scaggs remained in Europe, singing on street corners. In Sweden, he recorded a failed solo LP, 1965's "Boz".

In 1967 he received a postcard from his old classmate Steve Miller, inviting him to come to San Francisco to join the Steve Miller Band. Boz promptly flew back to the USA, and became a songwriter and rhythm guitarist for the band. Performing on the albums "Children Of The Future", and "Sailor", Boz's taste in music showed its difference from Steve's, so in 1968 he left the band to embark upon a solo career.

With the aid of Rolling Stone magazine publisher Jann Wenner, Scaggs secured a contract with Atlantic Records. Sporting a cameo from Duane Allman, 1968's soulful album titled "Boz Scaggs", failed to find an audience, despite winning critical favour. A song from the album "Loan Me A Dime" later became the subject of a court battle, when bluesman Fenton Robinson successfully sued for composer credit. After signing to Columbia, Scaggs teamed with producer Glyn Johns to record 1971's "Moments", a skilful blend of rock and R&B which, like its predecessor, failed to make much of an impression on the charts.

Scaggs remained a critics' favourite over the course of LPs like 1972's "My Time" and 1974's "Slow Dancer", but he did not achieve a commercial breakthrough until 1976's "Silk Degrees", which reached number two on the album charts while spawning the Top Three single "Lowdown," as well as the hits "Lido Shuffle", "It's Over" and "What Can I Say".

In 1977 Boz received a Grammy for "Lowdown", making him the first blue-eyed soul man to receive one for the R&B category. His next release, "Down Two, Then Left", containing some of his most beautiful music, did not do so well on the charts; but shortly after, "Middle Man" did, with hits "Jojo", and "Breakdown Dead Ahead". Top 40 success kept coming in 1980 when a song he recorded for the Urban Cowboy soundtrack, "Look What You've Done To Me", entered the Top 20. 1981 brought a song called "Miss Sun" that also did well on the record charts.

Despite all of his success, Scaggs spent much of the 1980s in retirement, owning and operating the San Francisco nightclub, "Slim's" and limiting his performances primarily to the club's annual black-tie New Year's Eve concerts.

"I backed away to get my bearings," he said. "It had become too much of a business to me. I needed some distance, some time to figure out my direction."

He finally released an album in 1988, but by then much of his audience had fragmented. When Scaggs toured in 1992 as part of Donald Fagen's New York Rock & Soul Revue, he was heartened to find that audiences had not forgotten his sexy, distinctive tenor. From there, Scaggs slowly rekindled his career, first with 1994's "Some Change" and then in 1997 with "Come On Home", a spirited, confident collection of 10 R&B cover tunes and four originals. By returning to the Delta and Chicago blues of his youth, Scaggs earned some of the strongest reviews of his career. "I rediscovered my love for guitar, making that record," he said. "I got back into the mindset of myself as a musician, not just a singer." In 1998, he toured as an opening act for Stevie Nicks. Sadly, tragedy struck on December 31st of that year when Scaggs' son Oscar died of a heroin overdose at the age of 21.

In September of 2001, Boz set out on a 20 city U.S. theatre tour in support of his new album called "Dig". Touring with a six-member band, Boz said, "I like doing shows much more now than in the past. Partly because I was away from it for so long and partly because I'm doing it on my own terms now. I'm in a good place. I'm having fun."

In 2003, after more than thirty years in music, Scaggs enjoyed one of his most successful albums when his CD "But Beautiful" spent six weeks at the top of the Billboard Jazz charts. For that effort, he enlisted a four-piece ensemble, including impressive young saxophonist Eric Crystal, for a stroll through some Jazz standards written by such luminaries as Duke Ellington, Rodgers & Hart, Sammy Cahn and the Gershwins. Scaggs' rich, warm voice fits the songs like a glove.

Boz continued to tour, performing to sold out venues across America. In February, 2007, a remastered, expanded edition of "Silk Degrees" was released and plans for a DVD/CD combo called "But Beautiful Live" were announced.

In June, 2008, Scaggs announced that he was finalizing a label deal for the planned September release of his next album, "Speak Low", that featured what he called "unusual instrumentation" that includes a string trio, bass woodwinds and harp. "It was very challenging to me as a vocalist," Boz noted. "I'm a vocalist. I come more out of a blues / rhythm & blues background, but this is a different way of using my voice, and much more musically challenging and adventurous for me." Later that year, Scaggs undertook an expanded tour across the U.S.

In the summer of 2010, Scaggs began a tour with Steely Dan's Donald Fagen and former Doobie Brother's member Michael McDonald. Billed as The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue, the show included songs by various artists and personal repertoire songs from all three headliners.

2011 brought a solo tour across America, which extended into 2012. Many of those shows were slated for the casino circuit. 2013 was filled with more concert dates in support of his first new album in five years, "Memphis". The now 69-year-old Scaggs was reported to be in excellent voice and was still putting on crowd pleasing performances.





back