Blue Miller’s astrological sign is Cancer. Cancer’s are homebodies. He is the exact opposite, and that opposite is as apparent as the difference between his singing and speaking voice. Find him out on the road….find him in the studio….but home? That’s where he sleeps…sometimes. He’s a down to earth “good guy”, a little bit shy, yes …. and a gentle soul. It’s hard to believe that throaty, raspy almost hurtful sound is him and harder to believe after you’ve seen him perform, that the soft-spoken person is one and the same. His singing and playing rip from his insides to show and tell the world, “this is what I am…this is who I am”.
Blue’s dad gave him a guitar at age six and he listened to pop radio, Motown records, and old time Rock’n’Roll, putting in hours of playing every day, trying to mimic what he’d heard, while his friends taunted him with baseball, football, basketball and later cruising for babes. While his buds were “scoring”, he scored music as he studied music theory, ear training and classical guitar at Wayne State. The Detroit music scene was happening. Detroit was home, and while he was definitely influenced, he soon developed a style all his own….black and white and every shade of blue.
A band fronted by Blue had to be and was….. went through some name and member changes, and eventually became known as Julia. Julia caught the ears of Ann Marston, (remember her?…..retired world archery champion and Miss Michigan) She became their manager and with her influence, she led them to three single releases with chart success. Any Michiganders who remember “Mystic Cloud/Someone Like You” or “You Want Me To Leave You/You For Me’ or “M’Lady/Honky Tonk Woman” on Palladium Records? (Bob Seger’s manager’s label) How many of you went to see Lovin Spoonful, Rod Stewart and the Small Faces, Bad Finger, Fleetwood Mac, Humble Pie, The James Gang, or David Bowie, jus to name a few, and saw Julia as the opening act? Punch Andrews, Bob Seger’s manager, signed Julia to a management/recording deal (not too shabby for a first band) and, when they were asked to tour and record with Blue’s hero, his parents, Shirley & Bill, had to sign a permission slip…. Blue was still in school. Look for him on the Capitol Records single release, “Lookin’ Back”, and the “Back In 72” & “Bob Seger Seven” LP’s on Palladium/Reprise Records. But don’t expect to find the name Blue Miller there. Look instead for Bill Mueller.
Read on……….he had rave reviews from England’s “Melody Maker” magazine touting his fabulous guitar work on Seger’s albums, but he was also a singer and writer, and he ached for the spotlight to showcase his own music. He left the folds of his hero. Julia disbanded, scattered, and Bill went on his solo way. (It wasn’t too long after this that the name Blue Miller was penned for the first time.)
He was soon signed by producer, Don Davis of Tortoise/RCA Records. Don had visions of becoming the next Detroit music mogul, but the label folded before Blue’s “Wishbook” LP was released. “Looking back”, Blue says, “I guess it was for the best…that album wasn’t really me. It was more what Don thought I should be”. He’d met Albert King and worked with him on his “King Albert” LP. King cut Blue’s “Bootlace” and it was released on Tomatoe Records. He also had songs recorded by Gladys Knight and David Ruffin. We were seeing more of the “blues” shade of Blue in this period his life.
And…there was yet another outlet for his blues…..in the advertising business. Remember that catchy little number he did called “The News Done Give Me The Blues” for the Detroit Free Press? Fans requested it when he was a solo act opening for Toto, Tom Waits, Leo Sayer, Cheech & Chong, Meatloaf, etc., etc., etc. at the marvelous old Royal Oak Theater. Blue remembers always being scared silly that he’d be booed off stage, a skinny young, longhaired kid with just a guitar, but his unique voice caught them and held them. It’s been said that he sounds like Bob Seger, Brian Adams, Joe Cocker and Rod Stewart all rolled into one. Before Don Was was, he walked up to Blue and said, “let me produce you”. Unfortunately, fear of the unknown accomplished nothing with Was. At that time, Blue was writing, performing & producing music scores for ABC-TV & already had many ADDY awards under his belt. Soon he was rewarded with 3 Emmy nominations for best original music, (including “I Am Somebody”…theme song for a Jesse Jackson special) and walked off amidst shouts & cheers with an Emmy in his hand. Who’d have thunk it? This was great fun, but, as all you road dogs know, you don’t leave it for long. The road beckoned. He answered the call and put together another band. What would he call them? The Bill Mueller Band? Yes that would do for now. Inroads had been made as Bill Mueller.
An LP titled “No Place Like Home” (what?…..an oxymoron) followed, and acting upon the advice of a trusted friend, Punch Andrews, he packed up lock, stock, and guitars and moved to central Florida to run the Southeast Coast and promote the new album. It was here that a friend said, “why don’t you flip flop the i-l-l in Bill & the u-e in Mueller and be Blue Miller? Yeah man, that’s cool, too cool!” And so, Blue Miller was born. Funny thing happened though, on the way to running the Southeast Coast to promote the new album … seems “No Place Like Home” was more than just an LP title. It was a sentiment that his band members held near and dear. Supposedly right on his heels, they couldn’t quite get up the nerve to leave Detroit, hearth and home. Blue bought a house, large enough to house his band and waited. By the time they’d followed, he was on to other musical endeavors.
He was in Macon Georgia at Capricorn Studios, where he was producing master tracks on himself, when he met Chuck Leavell and was so impressed with his keyboard work that his own guitars were moved over in homage. He later was the lead vocalist on a Sea Level release for Arista Records called “Make You Feel Love Again”. Guess Chuck liked him too. Pete Solly produced this cut and Blue will tell you that “he’d never been so beaten up in his life”…..and he loved it.
The guitar laden “No Place Like Home” which had taken him from Detroit to the deep South, was laid aside. The piano laden Macon project was laid aside. A big shot producer from Europe had heard Blue’s voice and tracked him down. “I’m gonna make you a star, boy”. Jack White was riding high with a number one international hit, “Gloria”, by Laura Branigan. Tracks were recorded in Atlanta, and tracks were brought in from Europe and LA. A single was released in Europe on Ariola Records that reeked of Disco… was this a shade of Blue? Blue thought about the most important piece of advice he’d ever received. It was from another of his hero’s, Eric Clapton. In a conversation at the Ritz in Atlanta, one night after a show, Eric said, “the best advice I can give you is, “if you’re gonna do it, do it honest, and do it the best you can”. Jack and Blue parted ways….an amicable split, destined to happen. Blue was Rock’n’Roll and Soul. Jack was pop oriented and Disco. Oil and water in some circles and definitely not a shade of Blue. Blue remembers when Jack asked him if he knew who Englebert Humperdink was. He’d played “What Are You Waiting For” for him and he loved it…. wanted to cut it. It landed on a platinum LP, “Dreaming With Englebert” on Ariola Records in Europe. “What Are You Waiting For” is the song that Blue considers his signature song. Watch him sing this, hear his heart break, and then look around and try to find a dry eye in the house.
Speaking of Europe, Blue sang background on their “Final Countdown” LP including their number one hit “Carrie”.
Peabo Bryson and Issac Hayes called on Blue for session work.
Blue produced tracks on a Canadian artist named Kelita, and tracks on Sammy Johns.
His performance of his song “Rock On Through The Night” was used on the ABC network show “Super Carrier”.
That bluesy singer wailing about hamburgers for America in the movie “Hamburger, the Motion Picture” is the Blueman. We’ve heard he also sings about waffles.
He toured the U.S. and Australia with Issac Hayes, played the Apollo Theater to standing ovations when he took center stage with his guitar solos, and kidded everyone about being “the only white boy in a 12 piece black band…and they made me ride in the back of the bus”.
The Cruzados, Paul Shaffer and The Worlds Most Dangerous Band, and T. Graham Brown were in the limelight in the ad business with successful campaigns for Busch Beer and Taco Bell and Blue was involved in all three.
He performs a duet, “Brother To Brother”, in the movie, “Next Of Kin” starring Patrick Swayze………he calls it his stunt vocal for Greg Allman.
He cut some sassy R’n’B tracks with producer Willie Mitchell, Poppa Willie, as they call him in Memphis.
And the beat goes on……………
Meanwhile, a new music mecca was thriving…Nashville, Tennessee. Top notch music people were moving there in droves…said it was gonna be “Little L.A.” Of course, Blue would go there. Nashville was the pied piper.
He’d been in Nashville one week when he ran into a friend from Atlanta, also following the pied piper, who said, “I’ve got this guy I want you to meet, …… looks like your brother”. The Gibson Miller Band was formed & signed to Epic/Sony Records. Blue co-produced, “Where There’s Smoke”, their first CD, which had 5 top of the chart singles and 3 videos. He was on the road again, 37 states and 4 Canadian Provinces in 230 days. The Kentucky Headhunters, Hank Jr. and Colin Raye singled him out and called him on stage to perform with them. This was the life. This was what he was born to do. Rocker friend Ted Nugent teased him about being a traitor…..Blue, c’mon…country? Blue had found, to his amazement, that throngs of people are separated from the music by labeling. He was making music and playing like he’d always played. Blue collaborated again and produced the second CD, “Red, White & Blue Collar”. The band performed the opening track, “Mama’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” in “The Cowboy Way” starring Woody Harrelson, Kiefer Sutherland and Dylan McDermott. Waylon was so proud of this Blue Miller version that he joined them on stage in Pennsylvania for a rockin’, rousing show.
The Gibson Miller Band won The Academy of Country Music’s, Best New Vocal Group of the Year, and Levon Helm was quoted, “as far as I’m concerned, GMB is the best damned band in America”.
They were on their way….when from nowhere…from out of the blue….his partner decided to pursue other interests. Ouch! No problem for the Blueman though. He regrouped, and jumped right back in, producing acts, songwriting, doing session work and pulling a new Blue project together with a little help from his friends….look for Ricky Medlocke of Blackfoot/Skynyrd fame. He co-penned three songs with the Blueman on the new Blue CD. These two road dogs have some chemistry!….and of course, his Blue Crew, Mike Daly, Steve Grossman, Doug Kahan, Tony Harrell, Carol Chase and Cindy Richardson.
Hey NASCAR fans, check this out…..Blue Miller produced and co-wrote 20 rocking and rhythm and blues songs about racing, and his Kick In The Asphalt Band (named appropriately for this project) toured with the Winston Cup Road Show. There are 1,300,000 Winston Cup NASCAR CD’s out there. Do you own one?
And……did you know Blue produced “The Chrome Album” for Ty Stone and his band? Ty is Kid Rock’s new find, now on Top Dog/Atlantic Records?
And…did you know that Reen Nalli in Nashville via Detroit and New York arranged for Blue and India Arie to get together? She felt their two souls would meet in the middle. The fans have proven that Reen knows what she’s talking about. Blue co-wrote and produced the tracks that became the beginning of the “Acoustic Soul” CD, which was nominated for 7 Grammy’s. He hit the road again with India on her world wide tour. When she takes a break and sends him home, he fills his “down time” working with Aaron Neville, Michael Bolton, Tanya Tucker, Blue October, Smokie, Greg Crowe, Danny Shirley of Confederate Railroad, Fletcher, Barry Becket, Ilse DeLange, Politics, Tim Montana and new artist from Alabama, Skyler.
“No rest for the lucky ones in the music business”, Blue says, and adds, “I am so blessed to be working and doing what I love”.
There are many shades of Blue. When India introduces him, she says, “he’s not black, he’s not white, he’s Blue”.
Toured with, & or recorded & produced:
Julia, Teagarden & Vanwinkle, Bob Seger, Brownsville Station, Ted Nugent, Palladium Records, Albert King, Don Davis.
Blue Miller Band, Sea Level, Brat Records, S-Records
Willie Mitchell, Peabo Bryson, Capitol Records, Europe, Issac Hayes, Epic / Columbia Recoords
Gibson/Miller Band, India.Arie, Blue October, Michael Bolton, Aaron Neville, John Michael Montgomery, Blake Shelton, Confederate Railroad, Doug Stone, Ty Herndon, Joe Diffie, Melissa Manchester, Shannon Brown, Rissi Palmer, John Legend
USA, Canada, Australia, England, Ireland, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Caribbean, Bermuda, Japan
Tangerine Bowl, Cobo Hall, Joe Louis Arena, Fisher Theater, Royal Oak Theater, IMA Auditorium, Apollo Theater, Carnegie Hall, The Lincoln Center, Madison Square Gardens, Lincoln Theater, Constitution Hall, Fillmore West, Greek Theaters, Wilshire Theater, Montreax Jazz Fest, North Sea Jazz Fest
Detroit Free Press, Kroger, NutraSweet, McDonalds, Bud Light, Illinois & Hoosier Lottery, Coke, Schlitz, Bush Beer, Frosted Flakes, Clorox, Betty Crocker, Valvoline, Coors Light, Cherry 7up, Kraft, Coast, Shoney’s, Hot Pockets, Gerber’s
TV / Movie Soundtracks:
Super Carrier (TV), Hamburger (The Motion Picture), Next Of Kin, The Cowboy Way, Miami Vice (The Movie), Bamboozled, The Perfect Game