Frankie Miller – The Blue-eyed Soul Singer
For those that are not familiar with Frankie Miller, he’s a Scottish rock singer and songwriter. With his songs being covered by the likes of Rod Stewart, Ray Charles, Bob Seger and Etta James. Just to name a few! One would think that he would be more of a household name when it comes to rock and soul. While you may not be familiar with him as an artist, trust me, you’ve heard his songs. Below is a cover of Oscar Blandamer’s song Darlin’ that Miller covers and even though he hates the song, he turns into a hit. Other artists that have covered it are Tom Jones, and Bonnie Raitt for the Urban Cowboy soundtrack.
The Early Years
Growing up in Glasgow, his first introduction into Rock and R&B music is through his mom’s record collection. With the likes of Ray Charles and other similar artists while his older sisters introduce him to the music of Elvis, and Little Richard whom he identified with more because of his flamboyant attitude when performing. Furthermore, he starts writing songs by age nine after receiving a guitar from his parents. Later his obsession with music and his natural vocal abilities, leads him to being involved in several high school bands.
Including “The Deljacks”, “West Farm Cottage” and a soul band called “Sock It To ‘Em JB” which features good friend Jimmy Dewar who later is the vocalist for Robin Trower. Later he joins the Stoics which at the time officially makes him a professional musician gaining popularity everywhere they perform. Shortly after, the band is signed by Chrysalis Records in 1970. As the Stoics, they go on to support Ten Years After and make a brief appearance at The Isle of Wight Festival as Howl. But before they could record any albums, the band breaks up.
Being A Part of Procul Harum
After the band breaks up, Frankie meets up with Robin Trower (Procol Harum) and is asked to join the band Jude in 1971. Unfortunately, things don’t pan out and they never record an album as a band. Using ‘Pub Rockers’ Brinsley Schwarz as his backing band. Material wise the album showcases Frankie’s skills as a well above average song writer and “I Can’t Change It” is recorded. The ultimate compliment for Frankie is when Ray Charles covers it on his album “Brother Ray Is At It Again”.
The Brinsleys end up backing Frankie when he’s given the support slot on Ten Years After UK Tour, bringing him back to Scotland to perform for the first time since the Stoics days. They also cut a four song BBC session for the Bob Harris Show which is releases in 2002.
Frankie’s career really takes off after he his first album. Shortly after, Allen Toussaint takes him to New Orleans. Which is when the album “Highlife” is recorded. Also, Frankie is given free reign on it. It receives great reviews and yet the sales were not so great. Leaving Frankie, the time to work on another project. Frankie ends up helping out his friend Phil Lynott to write and perform a track for Thin Lizzy’s “Night Life” album. It becomes the classic “Still in Love with You.” Being a highlight for the Thin Lizzy’s shows for years to come.
When former Free bass player Andy Fraser was looking for a new band, he thought of Frankie. The two wrote and recorded together but nothing permanent came of it. Their search however for a permanent lead guitarist led them to Ex-Grease Band member Henry McCullough with whom Frankie would form The Frankie Miller Band. “The Rock“, releases in September 1975 marking the band’s debut with bassist Chrissie Stewart, drummer Stu Perry and keyboard player Mick Weaver completing the lineup.
The Rock is recorded at Alcatraz Prison in San Francisco. The album also features the legendary Memphis Horns and The Edwin Hawkins Singers doing back-up vocals on classic songs like “A Fool in Love”, which receives a lot of airplay on both sides of the Atlantic and a sizeable hit in the U.S. “Aint Got No Money” becomes the album’s most covered song with versions from Cher, Chris Farlowe and Bob Seger covering it. Below is a great version of The Rolling Stones “Dead Flowers”
Frankie Miller – The Songwriter!
After the release of “Standing on the Edge”, which is produced by Barry Beckett, and recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama. Releasing on Capitol Records, Miller concentrates on songwriting. The Bellamy Brothers follow up, co-written with Miller, titled “Forget About Me”, peaked at No. 5 in the US country chart.
Miller’s songs have earned him many songwriting awards and have been covered by artists such as Hanne Boel, Johnny Cash, Lulu, Ray Charles, Rod Stewart, The Bellamy Brothers, Kim Carnes, Waylon Jennings, Bob Seger, Bonnie Tyler, Roy Orbison, Etta James, Joe Cocker, Joe Walsh, and The Eagles. Not only did he have success, in music but he also did quite well creating music for films and even had some acting jobs under his belt as well.
Health Issues and Recovery
In August of 1994, Frankie suffers a brain hemorrhage in New York City, while writing material for a new band he and Joe Walsh of the Eagles had formed with Nicky Hopkins and Ian Wallace. Miller spent five months in a coma, when he emerged, he is unable to speak or sing or perform. He then goes through rehabilitation. Miller is no longer able to perform, but a new album containing old takes by him is released in 2016. The album, Frankie Miller’s Double Take, contains 19 songs remastered into duets with other artists.
The BBC films a documentary in 1999 called “Stubborn Kinda Fella” to mark his amazing progress. In this documentary, Rod Stewart stated that Frankie “was the only white singer to have brought a tear” to his eye. Also 2006 saw the release of Long Way Home featuring tracks from the aforementioned project. Upon its release, the album received 5-star reviews from critics. September 30th, 2016 sees the release of Frankie Millers Double Take, a 17 track album full of duets with other stars including Elton John, Rod Stewart and Willie Nelson.
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