[Note: The Steve Miller Band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2016.]
Continuing the series on bands unjustly denied a spot in the Rock & Roll of Fame  , we turn to The Steve Miller Band. If you, like my mother and stepfather, enjoy listening to Classic Rock on the radio, you will probably be familiar with more Steve Miller Band songs than you might automatically think. Even if you are largely a fan of newer bands, you will still find that you are familiar with more Steve Miller Band songs than you might think at the outset. And that is probably the reason why Steve Miller Band is not (yet) in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame despite very solid credentials.
The Steve Miller Band’s Contribution
In examining the contribution of the Steve Miller Band to Rock & Roll, there are really two elements we must consider. The first is their body of work, concentrated in the 1970’s but extending from 1968 to 1982 as far as hit singles are concerned . Their first single, “Livin’ In The USA,” came out in 1968, and was notable enough to be included on the Even More Dazed And Confused Soundtrack (more on that in a bit). Their last big hit single, Abracadabra, hit #1 in 1982. In between those two hits, the Steve Miller Band hit the Top 40 with songs such as “The Joker”, “Take The Money And Run,” “Rock’n Me,” “Fly Like An Eagle,” “Swingtown,” and “Jungle Love.” Virtually all of these songs are staples in the Classic Rock format, showing the enduring value of band’s catalog. Their songs have also continued to be covered by successful acts, showing the influence of the Steve Miller Band on others, ranging from “Abracadabra” by Sugar Ray to the hit remake of “Fly Like An Eagle” for Seal off of the Space Jam soundtrack.
Indeed, if the hit singles of The Steve Miller Band are not enough to take notice, let us examine the lasting impact of the style and approach of the Steve Miller Band. The band’s musical output as a whole showed a fusion of rock, country, dance, and blues elements, all shared by thematic concerns about love and a certain stoner sensibility. Many bands have followed that template successfully, coming out of California with a laid back rock groove and similar musical and horticultural interests (Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth, and Jack Johnson spring to mind). The fact that songs by the Steve Miller Band are still played regularly on the radio, are still covered and released on albums (and as singles) by notable bands and musicians, and have inspired a second generation of bands that follow in the same groove ought to suggest that the Steve Miller band meets the standards of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and ought to have been inducted some time ago.
Why The Steve Miller Band Is A No-Brainer For The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
The combination of a strong list of amazing and successful songs, a long period of relevance for their era, and a massive influence on contemporary acts combines to make a strong case for induction by The Steve Miller Band. Unlike many of their contemporaries on the radio during the “Classic Rock” era, they didn’t pander to the masses, and never established a reputation as a “soft” or “adult contemporary” act. They showed some stylistic variety while making a consistently strong set of songs about love and relationships for a period of 14 years and they are still an active and relevant musical act, recording two new albums in the last two years.
Why The Steve Miller Band Isn’t A Member Of The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?
Perhaps Jann Werner isn’t aware that all of the grooving laid-back rock songs on the radio are from the same Steve Miller Band? Perhaps the mainstream commercial success of the Steve Miller Band is being held against them, and perhaps Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth, and Jack Johnson aren’t “cool enough” contemporary acts to serve as a good measure of their influence? This is the problem with overly subjective standards: they just don’t make sense.