Then came 1976’s Silk Degrees, with its #3 hit, “Lowdown,” and other smashes like “Lido Shuffle” (#11, 1977). His studio band for much of the ’70s included the nucleus of what became Toto. Though Scaggs has never quite matched that success, Middle Man yielded minor hits with “Breakdown Dead Ahead” (#15, 1980) and “Jo Jo” (#17, 1980). Scaggs also appeared on the soundtrack of the film Urban Cowboy(1980). In San Francisco, Scaggs became known for his annual black-tie concerts on New Year’s Eve.
Scaggs’ 1994 Virgin Records debut, Some Change, was his second album in 14 years. The preceding release, Other Roads (#47, 1988), yielded the hit “Heart of Mine” (#35, 1988). During the mid-1980s he opened a restaurant and rock club, Slim’s, in San Francisco. Save for a lone 1988 album, Scaggs didn’t fully begin to return to music until he appeared as part of Donald Fagen’s New York Rock and Soul Revue in 1991. Some Change (#91, 1994) was produced by former Beach Boys drummer and Bonnie Raitt band member Ricky Fataar. Its 1997 followup, Come On Home, peaked at #94.
Scaggs toured as a member of the Dukes of September in 2012; the group’s other principals included Michael McDonald and Donald Fagen. Scaggs emerged from his recorded silence in March of 2013 with the Steve Jordan-produced Memphis, a collection of original and cover tunes. Recorded at Willie Mitchell’s Royal Studio in the city, the album was meant to reflect the heritage of the Southern soul tradition in the 21st century.
In 2014, Scaggs — with Jordan again as his producer — booked four days at Nashville’s famed Blackbird Studio with a core band from Memphis. They enlisted top-flight Music City session players as well as guests Bonnie Raitt and Lucinda Williams to supplement the sessions. A Fool to Care, released by 429 in 2015, showcased covers of classic soul, NOLA R&B, rock & roll and country covers, and new material.
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