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Cover Story ? Abracadabra! The magic of Steve Miller keeps on rockin'

Veteran rocker Steve MIller looks back on his long career and reveals how he ended up recording with Paul McCartney.

Steve Miller has released a new DVD titled “Steve Miller Band: Live in Chicago” on Coming Home Video that showcases the band’s greatest hits in the city where Miller cut his teeth as a live artist. The DVD includes amazing bonus footage where the crowd explains what they love about Miller’s music and an in-depth tour of the Chicago blues district with Miller being driven around in a taxi cab.

Miller discusses his early days in Chicago as well as his move out West to the booming San Francisco scene. Miller tells how the band changed when “The Joker” became a huge hit and how he suffered a near career-ending neck injury in a car accident. We talk about how he wrote most of his Greatest Hits albums in just over two years and why he thinks the industry abandoned him despite “Abracadabra” being the #1 song in the world.

Goldmine: Are surprised at the diversity of people who come to your shows?

Steve Miller:
Our audience always shocks people. We have a really broad cross section of people. One of the best things about the DVD is that they really captured the kind of people who come see us. We have the knuckleheads with STEVE written in red on their chest to the old couples kind of cuddling in the corner.

GM: Why did you choose Chicago to record the DVD?

The Coming Home Group came to us and said they wanted to do a live concert of us. We looked at some of the other DVDs they had done and saw they did a good job. They had a real budget and were not trying to do it on the cheap. We agreed to do it, and then it came time to look for a place to do the filming.

We had two nights booked in Chicago, and the stage was much wider than most stages and had a real CinemaScope look. I have a lot of history there. We decided to fly to Chicago and ask the people at the venue if they were very interested in doing this, and they were.

GM: The bonus features of you driving around Chicago in a cab are great.

The guy that had that cab was really cool. That had been his father’s cab. The camera was in the front seat, and the lights were on the floor. You wouldn’t believe all the stuff they had in the cab, and it still looked pretty natural, like we were just sitting in there. The camera the guy used took up half the front seat.

GM: Had you been to any of those places recently?

hadn’t been on that cruise in years. I had no idea it had changed. I knew the places I wanted to go see, but we would get there, and I would go, “Uh, what happened here?” When we got to Chess Records, we knocked on the door, and a young guy opened the door and said, “Absolutely not. You can’t come in here and film. We are teaching some classes to some kids.” One of the guys I was with pulled him aside and said, “Do you know who this is? This is Steve Miller. This is for a huge DVD that is going to go all over the world.” The guy said, “You’re going to have to call my mother, but you can’t come in here today.” The whole tour was like that. Everywhere we went was not there anymore.

GM: You said something in the interview in the cab that you had talked to a person to teach you to be more of a technical musician, and he talked you out of it.

I talked to the director of the orchestra for Second City. I said, “I am writing all this music, and I need a crash course so I can write it down and bring musicians in the studio and get it done.”

He told me that I had a high creative level, but that my technical level was not so high. He said, “I have an orchestra of people whose technical levels are huge