GIVING THE ‘LOWDOWN’ ON EARLY YEARS, MICHAEL JACKSON.
Boz Scaggs doesn’t remember the first time he performed in public, but he absolutely recalls how it felt the first night he was paid to make music.
Known for his five-decade career, with such hits as “Lowdown,” “We’re All Alone” and “Lido Shuffle,” Scaggs’ love of music took root during his early years in Oklahoma and Texas, where he immersed himself in blues, R&B and rock.
“It starts rather simply, sitting with a friend or a couple of friends and playing an instrument and singing along with each other,” he said in a recorded response to email questions. Soon he was sitting in with a combo, singing or playing harmonica, then the guitar.
“I suppose one landmark was the first night I played a full electric set . ... ,” he said of the New Year’s Eve he filled in for a bass player at a Dallas motel party. The details are fuzzy, but Scaggs said he probably was “wearing some sort of jazzed up clothing” for the occasion, and likely earned between $15 and $25.
“It was a special feeling to have performed a service, to
have turned people on and to have had so much fun and be handed what at that time seemed like a generous compensation.”
He said he has heard many other musicians talk about that same moment when “there is an exchange between this thing you are passionate about doing and getting paid for it.”
Scaggs, whose new album, “Out of the Blues,” comes out July 27, will perform at Stamford’s Palace Theatre on Thursday, June 14. He said he and his band have an extensive repertoire to share.
“I like to play those few things that everyone recognizes from the radio and from CDs and wherever, because they give me an immediate connection with my audience, and then see where we can go.
“I’m playing more bluesy and R&B things these days, along with a smattering of songs from the last couple albums that people may not have heard. I talk sometimes about the provenance of some of these songs. It really varies with the audience and situation that night.”
Aside from asking about his concert plans, we decided to see if Scaggs could confirm the validity of an intriguing notation we found online about a 1976 interview he did with Creem magazine. The report said Michael Jackson had recorded versions of two Scaggs hits, “We’re All Alone” and “What Can I Say,” but never released them.
“It is true to my knowledge as far as I know,”
Scaggs replied, but he said since he never heard the recordings, he can’t be sure. What he’s more clear about is that Jackson recorded “We’re All Alone,” because he heard that from the head of a subsidiary of CBS Records, where he and Jackson were both under contract.
“... Michael was probably recording a lot of material at that time. He spent a lot of time in studio. There was a great demand for anything he did. That song had been made a worldwide hit by Rita Coolidge. It got all around. I can see Michael doing that . ... Maybe one will pop up one day. I would love to hear it.”
Boz Scaggs will perform at Stamford's Palace Theatre on June 14.