Early life and career
Scaggs was born in Canton, Ohio, the son of a traveling salesman. The family moved to McAlester, Oklahoma, then to Plano, Texas (at that time a farm town), just north of Dallas. He attended a Dallas private school, St. Mark's School of Texas, where schoolmate Mal Buckner gave him the nickname "Bosley"; this was later shortened to "Boz".After learning guitar at the age of 12, he met Steve Miller at St. Mark's School. In 1959, he became the vocalist for Miller's band, the Marksmen. The pair later attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison together, playing in blues bands like the Ardells and the Fabulous Knight Trains.Leaving school, Scaggs briefly joined the burgeoning rhythm and blues scene in London. After singing in bands such as the Wigs and Mother Earth, he traveled to Sweden as a solo performer, and in 1965 recorded his solo debut album, Boz
, which was not a commercial success. Scaggs also had a brief stint with the band the Other Side with Mac MacLeod and fellow American Jack Downing.Returning to the U.S., Scaggs promptly headed for the booming psychedelic music center of San Francisco in 1967. Linking up with Steve Miller again, he appeared on the Steve Miller Band's first two albums, Children of the Future
. Scaggs secured a solo contract with Atlantic Records in 1968, releasing his second album, Boz Scaggs
, featuring the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and session guitarist Duane Allman, in 1969. Despite good reviews, this release achieved only moderate sales. Scaggs moved to Columbia Records; his first five albums for Columbia all charted, but none peaked higher than #81.
1976-81: the hit years
In 1976, using session musicians who would later form Toto, he recorded Silk Degrees
. The album reached #2 on the US Billboard 200, and #1 in a number of countries across the world, spawning four hit singles: "It's Over", "Lowdown", "What Can I Say", and "Lido Shuffle", as well as the MOR standard "We're All Alone," later recorded by Rita Coolidge and Frankie Valli. "Lowdown" sold over one million copies in the US.A sellout world tour followed, but his follow-up album in 1977 Down Two Then Left
did not sell as well as Silk Degrees
had, and neither of the singles taken from it reached the Top 40. The 1980 album Middle Man
spawned two top 20 hits, "Breakdown Dead Ahead" and "Jojo," and Scaggs enjoyed two more 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 were US #14 hits.
Scaggs took a long break from recording and his next LP, Other Roads
, did not appear until 1988. "Heart of Mine", from Other Roads
, is Scaggs' last Top 40 hit to date. Also in 1988, he opened the San Francisco nightclub, Slim's
, and remained a co-owner of the venue as of 2008.From 1989 to 1992, Scaggs joined Donald Fagen, Phoebe Snow, Michael McDonald and others in The New York Rock and Soul Revue. His next solo release was the album Some Change
in 1994. He issued Come On Home,
an album of blues, and My Time,
an anthology, in the late 1990s. He garnered good reviews with Dig
although the CD, which was released on September 11, 2001, got less attention than it might have received in a calmer time. In May 2003, Scaggs released But Beautiful
, a collection of jazz standards that debuted at #1 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, the artist released a DVD and a live 16 track CD that was recorded August 2003 at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. After a break in recording, in 2008, he undertook a series of shows across the US. Two years followed when the performer began a tour with Donald Fagen and Michael McDonald. Together they took the opportunity with concerts entitled Dukes of September Rhythm Revue. Aside from that, Boz's next album Memphis
was released a few months later in March 2013. It was recorded in that Southern American city at the Royal Studios. The album included some of his favorite compositions he choose to cover from other artists. An expansive tour of the United States, Canada and Japan followed with the anticipated release. Boz got himself a great reception on the road in 2013, and before the year ended, added new live dates across America, including Australia for 2014.
Scaggs and his wife Dominique grow grapes in Napa County, California, and have produced their own wine. Scaggs's son, Austin Scaggs, is a music journalist with a column called "The Smoking Section" in Rolling Stone
. Another son, Oscar, died of a heroin overdose in 1998 at the age of 21.