Music News

Rocker Steve Miller hated the Grateful Dead

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rocker Steve Miller may have honed his craft in San Francisco during the late 1960s, but don’t lump him in with local bands from that time, especially the Grateful Dead.

“I couldn’t stand that band,” Miller said on Thursday, during a panel at a music industry symposium, recalling the Dead’s interminable jams and lengthy tuning breaks between songs.

In fact, Miller said it was much more interesting to listen to frontman Jerry Garcia’s stage banter than to listen to the band play its psychedelic improvisations.

The San Francisco music scene was more of a “social phenomenon,” Miller said, and his eponymous band was more musical and more professional than the pack.

Miller was speaking at the “I Create Music” expo hosted by performing-rights group ASCAP. The night before, he received a lifetime achievement honor from ASCAP, and performed a half-dozen tunes, including such hits as “The Joker,” “Rock ‘n Me,” and “Take the Money and Run.”

During the panel discussion, he stressed the importance of having complete artistic control, noting that he held out for such rights when 14 labels competed to sign him after his performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. He eventually went with Capitol, which still represents him.

He recalled that he allowed the United States Postal Service to license his tune “Fly Like an Eagle” in the 1990s under an $11 million deal that gave him final approval of every aspect. But the first few television ads aired before he received the submissions in the mail, and were “awful.”

Increasingly frustrated, he called the USPS and its ad agency, and told them, “You have to stop sending this stuff by Priority Mail ... Use FedEx.”

“It was really bizarre working with them,” he said.