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IN-DEPTH
SONG HOME COVER VERSIONS YOUR VIEWS
"The Joker"
Steve Miller Band
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The Steve Miller Band

This Steve Miller song hit the #1 slot on both sides of the Atlantic – sixteen years apart!

"The Joker" was the single that catapulted Milwaukee guitarist and singer Steve Miller to arena rock stardom. In it, Miller mentions various aliases that he has used in his back catalogue. The Space Cowboy was a song on the Brave New World album, the Gangster Of Love was from Sailor, and Maurice was from the song "Enter Maurice" from the album Recall The Beginning … A Journey from Eden.

The word 'pompatus' or 'pompitous' (as in "The Pompatus of Love") was made up and inspired a movie of the same name written by and starring US actor, Jon Cryer (Pretty in Pink, Dudes).

Miller got the line at the end, "I really love your peaches, want to shake your tree, lovey dovey, lovey dovey ..." from "Lovey Dovey," a 1953 song by R&B group The Clovers.

Steve Miller
"This was the first time everybody had to do what I said. If the drummer didn't do what I wanted him to do - he was not the drummer anymore."



Miller had the beginings of a tune and the words for an intro -the lyric including Space Cowboy, but it wasn't until he was messing around with his guitar at a party in California that the song seemed to almost write itself.

Steve Miller
"I was laying across the hood of a car writing it, when it all just fell into place."


As in "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" a fuzzbox is used to make the strange sound effect. As Miller explains: "I got the slide guitar, put it through a Lesley pedal which is the speaker that goes to a B3 Hammond organ and rigged up a special pedal so you could plug your guitar into the Lesley pedal and plugged that into a fuzzbox or something like that which overdrove the Lesley which made the sound that did the whoop whooo!"


In 1990 "The Joker" finally reached #1 in the UK charts thanks to its inclusion in a Levi's jeans commercial - the one where the cool guy rides around an office building on his motorbike. (See also, Stand By Me, which enjoyed a similar revival thanks to a sexy jeans ad).

The song pipped Deee-Lite's "Groove Is In The Heart" to the UK #1 slot in an unprecedented tie-breaker situation. Both records had apparently tied on the 'panel points' which the independent chart organisation used to rate the week's chart movements, but Steve Miller and co got the slot because their record had had the biggest sales gain over the previous week.

"Just being yourself is what that one says to me ..."


Johnnie Walker

 Listen to Johnnie Walker on having "The Joker" played from the grave ...

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