There are some musicians with massive talent who don't, for one or several reasons, get the kudos, international acclaim, adulation, money, awards etc. that they deserve.
Frankie Miller didn't get any of that. Instead, in 1994, Frankie got a brain haemorrhage that whacked him nearly into death, into a coma for five months, into a wheelchair and finally into rehabilitation.
Frankie Miller had a great blues voice. He was a also a great songwriter whose songs have been covered by music legends like Ray Charles, Roy Orbison and Bob Seger, to mention but a few.
Born in Bridgeton, Glasgow in 1949, a brief stint as an apprentice electrician was about as close to traditional working class trade servitude as Frankie was to get. For almost the next thirty years, Frankie strut his funky stuff all over the globe, making friends as he went.
He never forgot his roots, as demonstrated by his support for Celtic Football Club. Celtic was the club to support if you were born in Bridgeton and Jimmy Johnston, the legendary Celtic winger was one of the superheroes of the club. Johnston was hustled out of a Celtic shirt which Frankie went on to wear on-stage for an entire American tour.
Frankie Miller - Giving it the full rock hero treatment
Frankie served his musical apprenticeship with a number of Glasgow bands before taking the well trodden path to London. He hooked up with Robin Trower, of Procul Harum, Jim Dewar of Stone the Crows and Clive Bunker of Jethro Tull and formed a band, Jude. Jude did the London pub circuit but, despite the track records of the principals, never recorded an album and split up in 1971.
The experience was good for Frankie though. In 1972 he signed a deal with Chrysalis and released his first album, "Once in a Blue Moon".
As with most of Frankie's output, it was critically acclaimed but not hugely successful commercially. However, it proved sufficiently interesting to attract the attention of legendary R & B producer Allen Toussaint who produced the follow-up album, "High Life".
He experimented with various solo and band line-ups and recorded a handful more albums over the next ten years. He had chart and recording success, but balefully acknowledged that they were with other peoples materials. Somewhat ironic when viewed in the light of his own talent as a songwriter.
His chart successes included a top 10 hit with "Darlin" and "Caledonia", the latter track polled as one of the two greatest Scots songs of all time in a newspaper poll of over 100,000 readers. If you haven't heard it, it's worth getting your hands on. It's the definitive version.
Frankie Miller's last album was "Dancin in the Rain" in 1986.
He may have been dealt a hard blow but the obvious affection of the music business for Frankie Miller, manifested itself in a tribute concert in 1998, an act that will be repeated in September 2002. The 1998 gig included Bonnie Tyler, Jools Holland and Paul Carrack. The 2002 one will include Joe Walsh, assorted members of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, and potentially, two members of FirstFoot's Bad Scottish Pop section, Clare Grogan and Midge Ure.
Down a bit, but definitely not out. He now works closely with the Drake Music Project, a charity that integrates able-bodied and disabled musicians. And more power to the man. An appropriate tribute comes from Billy Connolly, a longtime friend:
"Either you have life or you don't and he (Frankie) has it by the barrow load".