THE JOKER'S LAST LAUGH | EW.com

Music

THE JOKER'S LAST LAUGH

STEVE MILLER, AFTER ALL THESE YEARS

”I’ll come to your town, and 15,000 kids from the age of 12 to 25 will show up at the concert. About 60 percent of them are women, and the majority are between 15 and 20.” Eddie Vedder? Jon Bon Jovi? Nope, Steve Miller, the legendary rock dinosaur with easily the lowest profile. ”I’ll ride through the parking lot on my bicycle before the show, and there’ll be thousands of kids playing Frisbee, and they’ve all got my Greatest Hits on,” says Miller, 49, who has just started a 50-city summer tour. ”But no one pays attention because they don’t know what I look like.” A little obscurity doesn’t bother him, though. His 1978 hits collection has been a fixture on Billboard’s catalog chart for two years, weekly outselling such heavyweights as Sgt. Pepper’s, Bad, and The Joshua Tree. His monster ’70s hits-”Jungle Love,” ”Swingtown,” and ”Jet Airliner”-get more airplay on classic-rock stations than stuff by newer, hotter bands. And his slick, unctuous, and very white rock continues to be sampled by, yes, rap bands. ”There’s like 40 of them,” laughs Miller, ”and it’s usually ‘Fly Like an Eagle.”’ Miller’s new album, Wide River (his first since 1988’s Born 2 B Blue), is an attempt to storm the charts with fresher, though familiar-sounding, material. It’s his first PolyGram album after a bitter 1988 parting with Capitol Records, his label for 20 years. ”They (Capitol) weren’t very interested in what I was doing,” says Miller. Does he get inspiration from any of the up-and-comers who probably stole a few licks from him? ”I like the Spin Doctors, Pearl Jam, Sass Jordan, Extreme,” he says. ”I hear lots of good music coming up.” Has the business changed much since the first Steve Miller Band album, Children of the Future, came out in 1968? Not, he says, in terms of having to ”work really, really, * really hard to get creative control.” But those megabuck deals are a bummer. ”Fifty million for Aerosmith or ZZ Top or Madonna,” groans Miller. ”That sends a horrible signal to a new band that’s arguing over a $60,000 video budget and being told the money just isn’t there.” -DD