The song that transformed Boz Scaggs’s career is simple to the point of monotony. Except for the guitar break, there are two chords: an Em9 that resolves into a jazzy A13 over and over and over. The beats come predictably on the two and the four, there’s a flute, and then there’s Boz himself, singing a Kermit the Frog line in that adenoidal range of his.
In print, even Scaggs seemed surprised that the song broke out of Silk Degrees and made him an overnight millionaire, a Grammy award winner, and a better dresser. It may have been the biggest makeover in rock history when Scaggs ditched his jeans and T-shirts for designer silk. In other words, club attire, and why not? Scaggs had unwittingly created a disco monster. Rolling Stone called it “city soul,” but in 1976, it was a disco hit. And oddly enough, the song helped birth another band. “Lowdown” was cowritten by David Paich. Two of the session players on Silk Degrees, David Hungate and Jeff Porcaro would eventually join Paich to form Toto.
These days Boz (William) Scaggs, from Dallas, is pushing 70. He got his start in music as a teen while at a private school with a classmate named Steve Miller. Scaggs went off to Europe to forge a solo career that, while respected, was never all that much sales-wise. He came back to join the Steve Miller Blues Band in San Francisco. On his own, he reverted to the white-guy soul he was known for right up to Silk Degrees. For the four years after, it was gravy-train time for Scaggs. And then, suddenly, at the top of his game, he quit music. In 1980 Scaggs opened a restaurant, and for the next decade or so, he kept a low profile. I’ve always wondered why he left that small measure of sanity to come back to the music business.
Boz Scaggs: Belly Up, Monday, November 19, 8 p.m. 858-481-8140. Sold out.