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Blue-eyed soul singer Frankie Miller made his name on the English pub rock circuit in the early 1970s, spending around a decade and a half cutting albums of traditional R’n’B, rock’n’roll, and country-rock. His distinctive voice and song writing ability have earned him the respect of his peers, including Rod Stewart, Joe Cocker, Etta James, Cher, The Everly Brothers and Ray Charles, who have all covered his songs.
Born in 1949, in Glasgow, Frankie Miller began singing with local bands in a style influenced by American soul singers like Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. In the summer of 1971, he moved to London’ s more fertile music scene, where he met ex-Procol Harum guitarist Robin Trower. Impressed with Miller’s talents as a raw soul belter, Trower appointed him lead vocalist of his new band Jude. It wasn’t to be Miller’s big break, as internal conflicts split the group apart with Miller returning to the London pub rock circuit.
During 1972, he made frequent appearances at the Tally Ho in Kentish Town, often sitting in with Brinsley Schwarz. This lead to a solo record deal with Chrysalis Records. Using the Brinsleys as a backing band, Miller recorded his debut album, Once in a Blue Moon, which was reviewed respectably. Following the LP’s initial run, Miller sent a copy to New Orleans R’n’B legend Allen Toussaint who was impressed enough to produce Miller’s follow-up. Travelling to New Orleans in 1973 and with an authentic Toussaint-led backing band Miller recordedHigh Life resulting in one of his most acclaimed and artistically satisfying albums.
Upon returning to England, Miller assembled a Stax-style backing band, dubbed simply the Frankie Miller. This group travelled to San Francisco to record The Rock released in September 1975 and produced by Elliot Mazer (Neil Young). This marked the band’s debut with bassist Chrissie Stewart, drummer Stu Perry and keyboardist Mick Weaver. Miller described The Rock, named after the infamous Alkatraz prison, as the only thing that saved him from life in a penitentiary, dedicating the title song to “prisoners everywhere”. The album also featured the legendary Memphis Horns and The Edwin Hawkins Singers, who supplied backing on classic songs like ‘A Fool in Love’.