Written by Kenny Lee Lewis / photos by Kenny Lee Lewis / kennyleelewis.com

Kenny Lee Lewis / Jazzmaster at the Fillmore
The Steve Miller Blues Band at the Fillmore

As I go into my 36th year as a member of The Steve Miller Band, it’s ironic that I was actually too young to get into the Fillmore, Winterland and the Avalon Ballroom during their heyday. But I do recall the story of when Steve and his hot band from Chicago by way of Dallas showed up on the scene there in 1966. Though there were a lot of iconic and psychedelic bands playing those venues at that time, very few had seasoned, professional musicians playing in those bands.

When the LA record companies came up to check out the counter-culture music scene going on in SFO at the time, they signed Airplane, Quicksilver, The Dead, Janis, Beautiful Day, and many other soon to be forgotten groups. But when they heard these hard drinkin’, shuffle slammin’ guys fresh out of Chicago called The Steve Miller Blues Band, Capitol Records snatched them up for a 7 album deal immediately and we are still going strong 50 years later.

SMB with Boz Skaggs – 1970

Steve Miller – 1960’s

Steve Miller

I grew up in Sacramento and started tuning in Tom Donahue coming up the delta late at night when the sun spots were cooperating and got my education to the SFO scene through pirate radio. One of my favorite deep tracks was “Songs for Our Ancestors” from Steve’s debut Children of the Future album. Then Sailor came out and I was hooked for life.

Thanks to Chet Helms, Bill Graham and Tom Donahue for coloring my early world with the promotion, and sharing of a musical art-form that still lives on to this day and puts food on my table.