Remembering Scott Miller

Posted April 19th, 2013 at 2:55 pm (UTC+0)
12 comments

By Katherine Cole

Scott Miller (courtesy Loud Family)

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Miller died this week at 53.  Critics and fellow musicians would refer to the former  Loud Family singer as “one of America’s most underappreciated songwriters.” He was he kind of artist who devoted fans just knew would be HUGE… if only more people had the chance to hear him.

 

Before he started Loud Family, Scott formed a power pop band called Game Theory in the early 1980s. That’s when I first heard his songs.  They weren’t played on the radio here in Washington, I only learned of the band because of my friend Jamie in San Diego. He loved the band so much he made it his mission to expose all his friends to songs like “Erica’s Word”

Game Theory went on to release 8 albums, but they’re all long out of print.  After that band broke up, Miller formed Loud Family,  putting out a handful of records (studio and live) and EPs  before calling it quits in 2006.   But Scott Miller never stopped writing, he just changed things up a bit.  Instead of putting out new songs, he started a blog. Which turned into the book “Music: What Happened?”, a look at his favorite songs from  1957 to 2009, picking ’57 as a start date because it’s the year that rock and roll was born.  It’s an interesting book—Miller even instructs us on how to listen to the songs he spotlights.

I think my favorite of his record reviews is for the Jackson Five’s 1970 hit “The Love You Save.”

“It was years before I noticed that the boyfriends in the second verse had inventor names, as in, “When Alexander called you, you said he rang your chimes”–Alexander Graham Bell, get it? Making this a very clever but bizarre song, since the chorus conceit is traffic safety (Stop the love you save may be your own/Darling look both ways before you cross me”). Anyway, it’s a devastatingly catchy chorus tune, Berry Gordy’s polyrhythm-venturing production is exactly right, and the vocal trade-off from Michael to Jermaine works surprisingly well.”

If you’d like to read more of Scott Miller’s thoughts on music, his website has links to a few chapters and you can also listen to some of the songs he cites as favorites.

While he hadn’t been recording recently, his website notes that Scott had been planning to start working on a new Game Theory album, Supercalifragile, later this year and “was looking forward to getting back into the studio and reuniting with some of his former collaborators.”

I noted earlier that the Game Theory CDs are out of print. Scott Miller’s webmaster wants to make sure that fans are able to hear his music, so she  is making them available to you as free downloads—at least for a limited time. Details here.

 

Host of VOA's Roots and Branches, and world traveler extraordinaire! When I'm not listening to music, I'm probably talking about it or thinking about the next band I'm going to see. Or my next interview! Join me every week for the best in folk, bluegrass and all other forms of American roots music!

12 Responses to “Remembering Scott Miller”

  1. Martin Secrest says:

    Power pop has lost one of its originators …

  2. Celeste says:

    “We’ve lost a king.” RIP Scott Miller 1960-2013.

    Scott’s albums have been made available for free download at http://www.loudfamily.com.

    Please donate in his honor to the educational fund for his daughters at http://www.gofundme.com/2nz0vk

    Peace to all.

  3. Tom Macri says:

    The world has just lost one of the greatest songwriters that ever lived. And it doesn’t even know it. I imagine his mind worked a bit like the genius of Brian Wilson in how he could transform a simple idea or feeling into a complexity that would only be rivaled by playing a three tiered game of chess whilst riding the Starship Enterprise (tell him Jim). Of course cramming a billion chord changes in three minute song can have that effect.
    His music is available for free on his website right now so you have no excuse not to go download it and fall in love with some of the greatest pop music ever created. But don’t stop there. This man must be evangelized as the world will only be better for knowing his music.
    So what are you waiting for? Download it now. You can get the link here. http://www.loudfamily.com
    The promptly go bang on every door and say Wake up! You’re sleeping through heaven.

  4. Aaron Krohn says:

    My band, elevator up, opened for Scott and Loud Family on the Plants and Birds…tour in Houston Texas. I saw him two more times and briefly spoke to him. In San Diego in 1998 and in NY sometime in the early 2000′s. In Houston he spilt wine into his amp and had to play thru my Twin. I thought it was incredibly cool that he was playing through my amp! I truly think Scott is one of the very best pop/rock songwriters of our time. Clever lyrics, wonderful melodies, unexpected yet captivating chord changes. His taste was also impeccable. When I read in “MUSIC: What Happened” that he liked West Side Story I got a little teary. I’d always loved that show and that music. Plant and Birds…is one of the great albums. (To say nothing of Big Shot, Real Nighttime and Lolita Nation) I wish I’d known him better but in our very brief encounters he was very open and friendly and funny. We’ll miss you Scott. Thanks for the wonderful music. Much love to his family. -Aaron

    • Thanks Aaron! I’m partial to Plants and Birds… but there’s much to like on all. I’m hoping people will take advantage of the free downloads on offer and discover Scott Miller and his music.

  5. I just realized that maybe one of the highlights of my musical performances will have been to open for Loud Family at The Great American Music Hall in SF sometime in the 1990s. I don’t want to go on about why or how that happened, but for a while Loud Family shared my rehearsal studio. I was lucky as such to know Scott some, spend some time with him and his band on tour. What a talented, soft spoken, sweet person and gentleman. I haven’t seen him in years and it is hard to believe he is gone at such a young age, which so much to give. My heart goes out to his wife, daughters and loved ones. So sorry, why can’t the jerks go first!? Ok, maybe the wrong question, but what a talented man, and way too young! RIP Scott Miller.

  6. Cathy says:

    I thought I’d read every single Scott Miller obit on line but somehow missed this one. The man was a genius. Easily the most fascinating, original and talented songwriter of the last 40 years. On my list of 50 all time favorite songs, Scott Miller probably wrote at least 25% of them. RIP Scott.

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VOA’s music bloggers bring you info about all kinds of music. Katherine Cole will keep you up-to-date on the world of Bluegrass and Americana music while Ray McDonald rocks the Pop charts and artists. Diaa Bekheet  jams with you on Jazz.  Visit us often. Your comments are welcome.

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