Steve Miller was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 5, 1943. His mother was an accomplished singer, and his father, Dr. George “Sonny” Miller, was a physician by profession and an amateur recording engineer in his spare time. Many members of Steve’s family were musicians, and he received his first guitar at age 4. Steve put it to good use performing songs for his family and playmates.
Les Paul, the inventor of the electric guitar and multi-track recording, and his wife, Mary Ford, were regular visitors at the Miller house. In fact, Steve’s father was best man at their wedding. Les and Mary taught Steve his first chords when he was five years old. Steve still uses some of the techniques they taught him at that time.
The Miller family moved to Dallas, Texas in 1950. Steve’s dad continued recording various styles of music. Great musicians of the time continued to appear at the Miller house, including legendary blues man T-Bone Walker.
The Marksmen, Steve’s first band, was formed when he was only 12 years old. This rock and roll band had a solid booking the entire semester playing mostly for fraternities. Steve taught his older brother to play bass so he wouldn’t have to rely on his mother for transportation.
The Marksmen continued to play for 5 more years. In high school, Steve asked his friend,”Boz” Scaggs, to perform vocals with the band. The greatest moment for them was when they backed blues hero, Jimmy Reed, at a local night club. However, at age 16 Steve left for college, which forced the band to break up. Steve attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison and formed a new band called The Ardells. Steve taught Boz Scaggs some chords, and he joined The Ardells the next year.
Steve continued working with The Ardells through the school year and staying in Madison during the summers to perform with a group called The Knightranes. The next year, Ben Sidran was added on keyboards for The Ardells. Steve spent a semester at the University of Denmark during his senior year. He returned to the U.S. and spent the summer enjoying the Chicago blues scene, including working with a young musician named Paul Butterfield. Lacking 6 hours for a degree in literature, Steve decided to move to Chicago to play the blues. Steve was soon on stage with the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Buddy Guy, who all encouraged him to continue playing.
Miller met Barry Goldberg and with bassist Roy Ruby and drummer Maurice McKinley formed The Goldberg-Miller Blues Band, playing Chicago clubs. The band was signed to Epic records during a convention in town. The recordings from this group are few and include a single called The Mother Song; however, there is one track on the box set performed by this band. They also appeared on Hullabaloo with the Four Tops.