PHOTO: Mike Coppola | Getty Images
When your godfather is Les Paul, the expectations can be crushing.
But Steve Miller has always achieved greatness—from his seminal contributions to the ’60s San Francisco Sound to the present day, where his space-rock mega-hit album Fly Like an Eagle sounds as fresh as it did commandeering the airwaves in 1976.
The lesson for today’s home-studio guitarists is learning how Miller managed to record an enduring classic with ’70s technology that still kicks ass in a Pro Tools world.
“I think Fly Like An Eagle stands up because it’s honest and simple,” Miller says. “Limitations are good, because you need to get in there and do what you’re going to do, and not spend all your energy goofing around.
“I worked long and hard on the tunes, but when we recorded the basic tracks, it was just bass, drums, and guitar. I taught the guys the songs, we ran through them a couple of times, and then I plugged my Strat into my old Fender Bassman, the engineer put a Shure SM57 on the amp, and we went for a first take.
“The second take or the 20th take can be perfect, but the first take has the energy and freshness that only happens the first time you play something. The only ‘secrets’ of that album are a clean recording, live energy, and first takes.”
Hear it for yourself again in this performance from the Midnight Special.
And as a bonus, you can also watch the mini-documentary about the making of Fly Like an Eagle, produced for the album's 30th anniversary.
And when you’re done, wish Mr. Miller a happy 72nd birthday!