Steve Miller - lead vocals, guitars; Dick Thompson - organ; Gerald Johnson - bass, vocals; John King - drums
It was no fluke that "Living In The U.S.A.," the infectious hit single by the Steve Miller Band included in this legendary live show, was an underground anthem during 1968, perhaps the most turbulent year of the Vietnam War. Both at home in America and in the jungle battlefields of Vietnam, the distinctive voice and blues-rock guitar stylings of Steve Miller could be heard loud and clear.
"Living In The U.S.A." was a wonderful juxtaposition. It applauded the freedom most experienced in everyday life in America during the Sixties, yet at the same time it cut deep into our social psyche with a purely cynical message of prejudice, poverty, and an insensitive government who was sending its youth off into a hell that would change the landscape of the country forever. "Did you think that it would be easy?...." Miller sings in the song. As the war was winding down, this King Biscuit Flower Hour broadcast was made at the Shady Grove, in - of all places - Washington, D.C. in November, 1974. On this historic live recording Miller can be heard blasting through a nearly nine-minute version of "Living In The U.S.A." that has the same intensity as the '68 three-minute single. Leave it to Steve Miller to make a memorable political statement, when all he was really trying to do was play his guitar and sing the blues.
For nearly forty-plus years, Steve Miller has remained a rock 'n' roll icon by simply remaining true to his art. From his early days playing blues in Texas honky-tonks; through his years fronting the Steve Miller Blues Band in both Chicago and San Francisco; to his eventual rock star status in the '70s, Steve Miller was, as he said in the early '90s, "...just trying to make my music as good as possible and to keep performing and just keep moving."
The show features a lineup that many consider to be the best of all the Steve Miller Band versions: organist Dick Thompson, bassist Gerald Johnson, and drummer John King - the musicians he also used on his brilliant studio album, The Joker. While the lineup of the band has changed completely, one thing that remains consistent is the distinctive style of Steve Miller. Probably one of the best white blues vocalists of all time, Steve Miller sings with just the right amount of vocal dynamics on these performances. At times, such as on the vocal captured for "Your Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash," his seemingly calm delivery is actually very intense. Yet, what makes Miller unique is his ability to combine his always passionate vocals with incredible guitar playing.
"I play for the audience's pleasure," he said in a 1982 interview. "What I expect from them is not important; it's what they expect from me. What I always expect to deliver to my audience is a very entertaining evening of singing and playing."