Frankie Miller (Great Rockers You Should Know, #1)

A recent challenge to the muso-historical relevance of one of my personal heroes, the legendary Bob Seger, got me to thinking about, well, not Mr. Seger, but another, very similar rocker who should be just as well-known: Frankie Miller.

For those who don’t know — and I’m thinking that’s most of you — Frankie Miller is a Scottish singer and songwriter whose voice is at least the equal, if not superior to such great, full-throated white blues-rockers as Paul Rogers, Bon Scott, and Mr. Seger

… to whom he’s often compared — and who he strongly influenced: Seger’s “Fire Down Below” owes such a strong debt to Miller’s “Ain’t Got No Money” that Seger recorded Miller’s tune … possibly to avoid a lawsuit from Miller’s publisher. Both acknowledged the debt and its payment — here’s a video of Miller doing “Money” and “Fire” as a medley, even:

… but I digress.

Miller’s worthy of a listen on his own merits. His “High Life” record is one of my favorite albums — classic R&B (“Brickyard Blues,” “If You Need Me”) mixed with great originals (the absolutely, undeniably awesome “The Devil Gun”). The CD re-release has as a bonus of several live tracks from a show I surely would’ve loved to have seen. Miller sounds both drunk and ecstatic — and neither condition is a detriment.

Miller’s career has been one of ups and downs: many record deals, many great rock and roll friends and war stories (he was close pals with two great rock and roll casualties, Phil Lynnot [Thin Lizzy] and Bon Scott — he was one of Bon’s drinking buddies on the night he died); he had several semi-hits, mainly as a songwriter (particularly on American country radio with The Bellamy Brothers, Clint Black, and Delbert McClinton), and in recent decades threatened super-group success with a pre-Eagles-reunion Joe Walsh, and had a life-threatening stroke.

But Miller is best thought of as pub-rock singer: a great voice, great phrasing, and great song choices (and writing — one thing I’ve learned from F. Miller is that if your songs aren’t as good as the other ones you could be singing, then you should writer better songs).

I think this clip of Frankie singing Bobby Charles’ “The Jealous Kind” gives you a great sense of him as a singer and song interpreter. Enjoy!

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