Boz Scaggs

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Boz Scaggs
Scaggs in 2015
Scaggs in 2015
Background information
Birth nameWilliam Royce Scaggs
Born (1944-06-08) June 8, 1944 (age 79)
Canton, Ohio, United States
OriginPlano, Texas, United States
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, guitarist
Instrument(s)Guitar, vocals
Years active1963–present

William Royce "Boz" Scaggs (born June 8, 1944) is an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist.[1] He was a bandmate of Steve Miller in The Ardells in the early 1960s and the Steve Miller Band from 1967 to 1968.

Scaggs began his solo career in 1969, though he lacked a major hit until his 1976 album, Silk Degrees, peaked at number 2 on the Billboard 200, and produced the hit singles "Lido Shuffle" and "Lowdown". Scaggs produced two more platinum-certified albums in Down Two Then Left and Middle Man, the latter of which produced two top-40 singles "Breakdown Dead Ahead" and "Jojo".

After a hiatus for most of the 1980s, he returned to recording and touring in 1988, releasing Other Roads and later joining The New York Rock and Soul Revue. Scaggs opened the nightclub Slim's, a popular San Francisco music venue until it closed in 2020. He has continued to record and tour throughout the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s, with his most recent album being 2018's Out of the Blues.

Scaggs is credited for helping the formation of Toto. For his 1976 album, Silk Degrees, he hand-picked musicians after taking suggestions from several people.[2] These musicians were David Paich, David Hungate, and Jeff Porcaro. The three were already friends and had frequently performed together on other albums, such as Steely Dan's Pretzel Logic. By going on tour with Scaggs, it solidified the prospect of starting a band. Columbia picked up on this talent by offering the new group a contract "without audition". Steve Porcaro described this as "a record deal thrown in our laps".[3] Paich stated "I'm not sure if Toto would have happened as soon, or quite the same way, without Silk Degrees".[4] Their friendship has continued throughout the decades shown by the varying collaborations and concerts performed together. Paich teamed up once more for Scaggs' 2001 album, Dig, where he contributed to 6 out of the 11 songs.[5]

Early life and career[edit]

Scaggs was born in Canton, Ohio,[1] the eldest child to Royce and Helen Scaggs. His father was a traveling salesman who had flown in the Army Air Corps during World War II. Their family moved to McAlester, Oklahoma, then to Plano, Texas (at that time a farm town), just north of Dallas. He learned his first instrument, the cello, at age 9. He received a scholarship to attend a private school in Dallas, St. Mark's School of Texas.[6]

At St. Mark's, he met Steve Miller, who helped him to learn the guitar at age 12. A classmate wanted to give Scaggs a "weird" nickname. This started out as "Bosley", then "Boswell" and "Bosworth".[7] The name was later shortened to Boz.[8] In 1959, he became the vocalist for Miller's band, The Marksmen. After graduation in 1962, the pair later attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison together, playing in blues bands like the Ardells and the Fabulous Knight Trains.[1]

Leaving school in 1963 due to his love for music, Scaggs signed up for the Army Reserve and formed a new band, The Wigs. By 1965, the band joined the burgeoning R&B scene in London. However, success never materialized and the group disbanded within a few months. Scaggs then travelled throughout Europe, earning money from busking.[9] He arrived in Stockholm, Sweden where he recorded his first solo debut album, Boz, in 1965 with the Karusell Grammofon AB label, which failed commercially.[1] He also had a brief stint with the band the Other Side with Mac MacLeod and Jack Downing.

Returning to the U.S., Scaggs promptly headed for the booming psychedelic music center of San Francisco in 1967 after receiving a postcard invitation from Steve Miller to join his band. Scaggs travelled to the U.S. via India and Nepal. Linking up with Steve Miller again, he appeared on the Steve Miller Band's first two albums, Children of the Future and Sailor in 1968.[10] He left the band due to different music tastes and tension between himself and Miller at the time. Scaggs secured a solo contract with Atlantic Records in 1968, releasing his second album, Boz Scaggs, a year later. It was produced by Jann Wenner (co-founder of the Rolling Stone Magazine) and features the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and session guitarist Duane Allman.[10] Despite good reviews, this release achieved only moderate sales. He then briefly hooked up with Bay Area band Mother Earth in a supporting role on their second album Make a Joyful Noise on guitar and backup vocals.

Scaggs next signed with Columbia Records releasing the albums Moments in 1971 and My Time in 1972. His first two Columbia albums were modest sellers and seeking a new more soulful direction his record company brought in former Motown producer Johnny Bristol for 1974's Slow Dancer album.[10] Although the album only made No. 81 on the US Billboard Album Chart, it subsequently attained gold status, no doubt getting a boost from the huge success of Scaggs's next album Silk Degrees.[1]

1976–1981: the hit years[edit]

In 1976, using session musicians who later formed the band Toto, he recorded Silk Degrees,[10] with Joe Wissert on producing duties.[1] The album, which received a Grammy nomination for album of the year and a further nomination for Wissert as Producer of the Year, reached No. 2 on the US Billboard 200, and No. 1 in a number of other countries, spawning four hit singles: "It's Over", "Lowdown", "What Can I Say", and "Lido Shuffle",[1] as well as the poignant ballad "We're All Alone",[10] which Rita Coolidge (who had performed backing vocals on an earlier Scaggs album) took to the top of the charts in 1977. "Lowdown" sold over one million copies in the US[11] and won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Song, which was shared by Scaggs and David Paich. In Saturday Night Fever, John Travolta choreographed his dance to "Lowdown".

In an interview, Travolta states "The Bee Gees weren't even involved in the movie in the beginning, I was dancing to Stevie Wonder and Boz Scaggs."[12] However, Columbia denied the song's use as there was another disco movie using "Lowdown" (Looking for Mr. Goodbar).[13]

A sellout world tour followed. Scaggs was performing at Avery Fisher Hall (now the David Geffen Hall) in New York's Lincoln Center during the infamous July 13th New York City blackout in 1977. He was around 15 minutes into the concert when the power went out. Scaggs told the audience to save their ticket stubs as he would do a repeat concert on the Friday night, a few days after.[14] Scaggs performed with Fleetwood Mac for a few concerts between 1976 and 1977.[15]

His follow-up album in 1977 Down Two Then Left did not sell as well as Silk Degrees and neither of its singles reached the Top 40.[1] For Down Two Then Left, Scaggs continued working with Toto and additionally Ray Parker Jr, who later created the Ghostbusters theme song in 1984.

The 1980 album Middle Man spawned two top 20 hits, "Breakdown Dead Ahead" (No. 15, Hot 100) and "Jojo" (No. 17, Hot 100); and Scaggs also enjoyed two more top 20 hits in 1980–81, "Look What You've Done to Me", from the Urban Cowboy soundtrack, and "Miss Sun", from a greatest hits set, both reaching No. 14 on the Hot 100. "Miss Sun" was an unreleased Toto demo from 1977 .

Later career[edit]

Scaggs in concert in 2006

Scaggs took a long break from recording as he felt making music became a "career" and that music had "left him". He did attempt to make a new album in 1983, but "it didn't feel right". In 1985, he succumbed to feelings of anxiety and felt he had to get a record out as there was "something very big missing" in his life.[16]

Scaggs' next album, Other Roads, did not appear until 1988[10] due to Columbia rejecting the record as "they didn't feel they had a strong hit single",[16] making Scaggs spend more time perfecting the album. "Heart of Mine", from Other Roads, is Scaggs' last top-40 hit as of 2018.[1] Also in 1988, he opened the San Francisco nightclub, Slim's, and remained an owner of the venue until the club's closure in 2020.[17]

From 1989 to 1992, Scaggs joined Donald Fagen, Phoebe Snow, Michael McDonald and others in the New York Rock and Soul Revue.[citation needed] In 1992, Scaggs performed at Toto's tribute concert for Jeff Porcaro, along with Don Henley, Donald Fagen, Eddie Van Halen, George Harrison, and Michael McDonald.[18]

His next solo release was the album Some Change in 1994. He issued Come On Home, an album of rhythm and blues,[10] and My Time: A Boz Scaggs Anthology, an anthology, in 1997.

In the summer of 1998, Boz toured as the opening act for Stevie Nicks.

After another hiatus from recording, his next album, Dig, received good reviews. However, the CD was released on an unfortunate date – September 11, 2001.[19] In May 2003, Scaggs released But Beautiful, a collection of jazz standards that debuted at number one on the jazz chart. In 2008 he released Speak Low, which he described in the liner notes as "a sort of progressive, experimental effort ... along the lines of some of the ideas that Gil Evans explored." During 2004, he released a DVD and a live 16-track CD Greatest Hits Live that was recorded August 2003 at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. Dig was re-released in 2006, with the exception of the song 'Get On The Natch'.

After a break in recording, he undertook a series of shows across the US in 2008. Two years later he joined Donald Fagen and Michael McDonald for concerts entitled the Dukes of September Rhythm Revue.

His next album Memphis was released in March 2013. It was recorded in that Southern American city at the Royal Studios. The album included some of his favorite compositions from other artists. A tour of the United States, Canada and Japan followed the release. Before the year ended, he added live dates across North America and Australia for 2014. In 2015, he released A Fool to Care, a compilation of mostly covers, including "Whispering Pines" with Lucinda Williams, and one original blues composition, "Hell to Pay", performed with Bonnie Raitt. The album rose to number 1 on the Billboard Blues Album chart and number 54 on the Billboard 200.[20] In 2018, he released Out of the Blues, reaching number 1 on the Billboard Top Blues Albums chart.

In February 2024, he made his first post-pandemic visit to Japan, touring for seven shows in five locations throughout the country. From the stage of his Tokyo show, he announced that he would donate the guitars he used for his Japan tour to a charity auction to support the recovery from the 2024 Noto Peninsula Earthquake which had struck on New Year's Day that year.[citation needed][46]

Personal life[edit]

Scaggs married his first wife, Donna Carmella Storniola,[21] in 1973. They had two sons: Austin, a music journalist for Rolling Stone, and Oscar, who died on December 31, 1998, from a heroin overdose.[22][23] Scaggs and Carmella divorced in 1980.[24] After 3.5 years, Scaggs won joint custody of his sons.[7] Carmella died in February 2017.[25]

In 1992, he married Dominique Gioia.[26] In 1996, they moved to Napa Valley and planted 2.2 acres of Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, and Counoise.[27] In 2000 they made their first wine. In 2006, Scaggs Vineyard was certified organic.[28] In 2016, Scaggs sold his plot to Newfound Wines.[29]

In 2017, his house burnt down as a result of the Northern California wildfires in October. He and his wife were on tour at the time. He lost everything: vineyard, cars, and sentimental objects such as decades worth of legal pads and cocktail napkins with lyrics on them.[30]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Grammy Awards
Year Type Category For
1977 Nominee Album of the Year Silk Degrees
Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male "Lowdown"
Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male Silk Degrees
Winner Best Rhythm & Blues Song "Lowdown"
1981 Nominee Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special "Look What You've Done to Me"
1998 Nominee Best Contemporary Blues Album Come On Home
2019 Nominee Best Contemporary Blues Album Out of the Blues

In 2019, Scaggs was awarded the Texas Medal of Arts.


With the Steve Miller Band[edit]

Year Album US
1968 Children of the Future 134
1968 Sailor 24

Solo albums[edit]

Year Title Peak chart positions Certifications

1965 Boz
1969 Boz Scaggs* 171
1971 Moments 124
1971 Boz Scaggs & Band 198
1972 My Time 138
1974 Slow Dancer 81 62
1976 Silk Degrees 2 6 1 20
1977 Down Two Then Left 11 4 55
  • RIAA: Platinum[34]
  • ARIA: 2× Platinum[35]
1980 Middle Man 8 36 11 52
1988 Other Roads 47 35
1994 Some Change 91
1996 Fade into Light
1997 Come On Home 94
2001 Dig 146
2003 But Beautiful 167
2008 Speak Low 128
2013 Memphis[37] 17
2015 A Fool to Care 54
2018 Out of the Blues[38] 82
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

* While the 1969 self-titled Atlantic album failed to chart upon initial release, it peaked at No. 171 when reissued in 1974. Three years later the album was reissued once again, this time in a remixed form. This version, however, only bubbled under the Billboard 200, reaching No. 209.

* Rolling Stone ranked this album at number 496 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Album Peak chart positions Certifications
1980 Hits! 24 9
1984 His Greatest Hits 28
1997 My Time: A Boz Scaggs Anthology
2004 Greatest Hits Live
2013 The Essential Boz Scaggs
2019 Japanese Singles Collection-Greatest Hits- [jp]
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


Year Title Peak chart positions Album
1971 "We Were Always Sweethearts" 61 40 Moments
"Near You" 96
1972 "Dinah Flo" 86 My Time
1976 "It's Over" 38 79 63 Silk Degrees
"Lowdown" 3 11 2 7 28 54 35
"What Can I Say" 42 35 55 21 10 2
1977 "Lido Shuffle" 11 5 13 18
"Hard Times" 58 79 40 Down Two Then Left
1978 "Hollywood" 49 44 23 33 19 43 7
1980 "Breakdown Dead Ahead" 15 8 64 Middle Man
"Jojo" 17 29 15 73
"Look What You've Done to Me" 14 3 8 41 Urban Cowboy (soundtrack)
"Miss Sun" 14 13 33 Hits!
1988 "Heart of Mine" 35 3 25 60 Other Roads
"Cool Running" 39 43
1994 "Some Change" 38 Some Change
"I'll Be the One" 68

See also[edit]


46. Boz Scag Presents Charity Auction for 2024 Noto Peninsula Earthquake Disaster Recovery, March 29, 2024-April 14, 2024

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  2. ^ Cashmere, Paul (April 14, 2014). "Boz Scaggs Explains How He Became The Father Of Toto". Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  3. ^ Elliottpublished, Paul (October 15, 2016). "The Secret History Of Toto". loudersound. Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  4. ^ DeRiso, Nick (March 30, 2015). "Silk Degrees launched Boz Scaggs' solo career, and Toto too". Something Else!. Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  5. ^ "Boz Scaggs - Dig Album Reviews, Songs & More | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  6. ^ "Meet St. Mark's Boz Scaggs". June 2018. Retrieved January 9, 2022.
  7. ^ a b "Boz Scaggs Interview". Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  8. ^ "Boz Scaggs". Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  9. ^ "Boz Scaggs Biography". Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 1058. ISBN 978-1-85227-745-1.
  11. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 483. ISBN 978-1-904994-10-7.
  12. ^ "The Making of Saturday Night Fever: John Travolta and the Cast's Retelling". Vanity Fair. August 15, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2022.
  13. ^ Songfacts. "Lowdown by Boz Scaggs - Songfacts". Retrieved September 18, 2022.
  14. ^ "The Don Lane Show (18.9.1980) Guests include: Peter Allen & Boz Scaggs". YouTube. Retrieved September 21, 2022.
  15. ^ "Jul 04, 1977: Fleetwood Mac / Boz Scaggs / Kenny Loggins at Exhibition Stadium, CNE Toronto, Ontario, Canada | Concert Archives". Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  16. ^ a b "Boz Scaggs Interview". Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  17. ^ Joel Selvin (March 20, 2020). "Slim's to close for good after more than three decades at heart of SF's music scene". Datebook. Retrieved March 20, 2020.
  18. ^ "TOTO AND FRIENDS - Jeff Porcaro Tribute Concert 1992 (3CD)". Retrieved September 18, 2022.
  19. ^ "Dig – Boz Scaggs | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  20. ^ "A Fool to Care - Boz Scaggs | Awards". AllMusic. March 31, 2015. Archived from the original on November 7, 2015. Retrieved November 4, 2015.
  21. ^ "Remembering Carmella". February 10, 2018.
  22. ^ Hamburg, Laura (January 4, 1999). "Boz Scaggs' Son Dies On New Year's Eve / Heroin overdose kills 21-year-old". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 4, 2015.
  23. ^ Chonin, Neva (January 13, 1999). "Heartbroken Scaggs Family Speaks Out Against Heroin / Musician calls drug that killed son 'S.F. plague'". San Francisco Chronicle.
  24. ^ Fong-Torres, Ben (August 4, 1984). "Boz Scaggs Interview". GQ Magazine.
  25. ^ Whiting, Sam (February 15, 2017). "Carmella Scaggs, socialite and ex-wife of singer". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  26. ^ Fink, James (August 23, 2016). "Family ties aside, Boz Scaggs is a Buffalo fan". Buffalo Business First. American City Business Journals.
  27. ^ Marc (December 14, 2016). "Scaggs Vineyard Owned By Boz Scaggs And His Wife, Dominique". History of Rock Music. Retrieved September 18, 2022.
  28. ^ "Scaggs Vineyard". Kazzit.
  29. ^ "Newfound Wines | Vineyards". Retrieved September 18, 2022.
  30. ^ "Boz Scaggs Processes The Past And Rebuilds For The Future". July 29, 2018. Retrieved September 18, 2022.
  31. ^ a b "Boz Scaggs Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  32. ^ "Boz Scaggs - Awards". AllMusic. Archived from the original on June 6, 2012. Retrieved March 14, 2022.
  33. ^ a b Peaks in Australia:
  34. ^ a b c d e "Gold & Platinum". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  35. ^ a b "Cashbox Magazine" (PDF). Billboard. March 25, 1978. p. 82. Retrieved November 13, 2021 – via World Radio History.
  36. ^ "Boz Scaggs - Silk Degrees". Retrieved March 14, 2022.
  37. ^ Baltin, Steve (January 14, 2013). "Boz Scaggs to Release First New Album in Five Years in March | Music News". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
  38. ^ "Boz Scaggs – Out of the Blues". Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  39. ^ Whitburn, Joel (June 1991). Top Pop Singles 1955–1990. Record Research. ISBN 978-0-89820-089-8.
  40. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944–2006 (Second ed.). Record Research. p. 212.
  41. ^ "Results: RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". July 17, 2013. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  42. ^ "Results: RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". July 17, 2013. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  43. ^ "The Irish Charts". Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  44. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 978-0-646-11917-5.
  45. ^ "Flavour of new zealand - search rianz". Archived from the original on November 23, 2018. Retrieved January 17, 2020.

External links[edit]