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Steve Miller's "Eagle" Still Flying 30 Years On

Of the Oakland Press

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Thirty years ago, the Steve Miller Band released his ninth album, "Fly Like an Eagle."

And it's been soaring ever since.

"Fly Like an Eagle" was the then-San Francisco based group's second platinum album, eventually selling more than four million copies and spending nearly two years on the Billboard 200 chart. It launched four Top 40 hits, including the chart-topping "Rock 'N Me" and the title track, which later became an ad theme for the United States Postal Service.

Save perhaps for the title track to 1973's "The Joker," "Fly Like an Eagle" is without question the signature piece of Miller's 38-year recording career -- so enduring, he says, that it doesn't feel like three decades has passed since its release.

"Time goes by so fast; it feels like it was seven years ago or something -- not 30," says the Milwaukee-born Miller, 62, who's celebrating "...Eagle's" anniversary with a new edition of the album that features outtakes and a bonus DVD featuring a concert and an interview.

"What I was looking for was...I wanted it to sound fresh," he recalls of the "...Eagle" sessions, which also produced songs for the 1977 release, "Book of Dreams." "It pretty much just took off and sold itself. The timing was just perfect; FM radio was getting stronger and stronger and AM radio was getting jiver and jiver and had to change their ways 'cause they weren't making as much money.

"So we kind of had everybody get behind the album and it just took off -- no pun intended."

Miller says he was initially cool to the idea of a 30th anniversary edition of the album, figuring that "if we found stuff I didn't put on the record, there was a reason for it." But he changed his mind when he heard a 5.1 SurroundSound version of the album and saw the footage of concert last year at Shoreline Amphitheatre near California tat featured guests such as George Thorogood and Joe Satriani. "All of a sudden I started going, 'Yeah, this could be pretty good,' " he says.

Of course, having done this for "...Eagle," Miller is anticipating requests for a similar treatment of "Book of Dreams."

"(The label) has mentioned it," he says with a laugh. "We'll see how this one goes...but let me enjoy it for a summer before I start thinking about the next one."

Miller, meanwhile, just finished another recording project, a collaboration with the University of Southern California Jazz band that took place in late June at Capitol Records' Studio A in Los Angeles. The project, which should be released in the first half of 2007, includes big band arrangements of some of his hits (including "Fly Like an Eagle" and "The Joker") as well as covers of songs by Stevie Wonder, T-Bone Walker and Bobby Blue Bland.

"These kids really surprised me," says Miller, who returned to live performing in 2004 after a four-year hiatus. "They've had classical training, jazz playing, but they can play by ear, too. They can do blues. They can do jazz. They can do nine inch nails, [cq] anything they want.

"Their ideas are fresh, their playing is energetic and they're control was amazing. They're very calm, cool and collected. It's a great experience, working with them."

Steve Miller and World Party perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday (July 7th) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $49.50 pavilion, $20 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit

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