The Song Steve Miller Wrote to Kick Pink Floyd ‘In the Butt’
Steve Miller says he wrote the classic track “Rock’n Me” with the aim of kicking Pink Floyd “in the butt” at the 1975 Knebworth festival near London, England.
He didn't want to accept the booking to open for Pink Floyd, but when he was finally offered a figure he couldn’t refuse, Miller started thinking about how the day would go. Then he put plans in motion that worked out perfectly, as he told Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show.
“I kept trying to turn down the gig,” Miller remembered. “I said, ‘I don’t have a band. I don’t wanna do this. This is a bad time for me. I’m in the midst of recording …’ They just kept saying, ‘Well, how about some more? How about if we paid you this much? If that wouldn’t be enough would this be enough?’ Finally I decided, ‘Well, this would be enough! Yeah, I can take a little break to do this!’”
He called musicians he’d most recently been working with, including Les Dudek, Lonnie Turner and Doug Clifford, and asked them: “How would you guys like to have an all-expenses-paid vacation to London to go do a Knebworth festival with Pink Floyd?” Miller continued. “They came over to the house, where we rehearsed for one afternoon. We got on a plane, flew to London and played to 120,000 people.
Listen to the Steve Miller Band at Knebworth
“I had thought about the gig and I knew they way it was going to work was, I was going to play just before Pink Floyd. … The sun would be going down. It would be really cold. There wouldn’t be any lights on the stage. It would be a lousy time. … I went, ‘You know, I’m gonna kick those guys in the butt.’ So, what I did was, I wrote ‘Rock’n Me’ as a song to play at a festival, to just get it going.”
The show went precisely the way Miller predicted, complete with the sun going down and the temperature dropping. When the moment came, Miller said, “Rock’n Me” successfully “ripped the joint up.” He added: “They just loved us. … [I thought] ‘Maybe we oughta record this one? This might be a good one to put on the record.’”
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