Alec Downie continues the story of the enigmatic Frankie Miller:

During the next few years Miller produced a number of quality albums including, Easy Money (1980), Standing On The Edge (1982), Dancing In The Rain (1986), and BBC Radio1 in Concert (1994).  He also had a major hit with the single Caledonia written by Dougie McLean which was voted a close second to the Corries “Flower of Scotland” as the greatest Scots song of all time by over 100,000 Daily Record readers.



Mary Saums the Nashville recording engineer and author reminisces, “I worked on Frankie’s Standing On The Edge  album which had the song, Angels With Dirty Faces, recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound and produced by Barry Beckett. Frankie impressed all of us, mainly because he was as much a workaholic as the rest of the crew.  Whether writing a new song or doing a guitar or vocal track, Frankie seemed to enjoy throwing himself into the thick of it – the harder the work, the better he liked it.  A real professional”.

Guitarist Chris Spedding who worked on three of Miller’s albums reflects, “His singing was always very emotional. One of the best rhythm’n’blues singers that were around in  Britain at that time (70s). He never had the luck of say, Joe Cocker, which is a great shame because, unlike Joe, Frankie was also a pretty good  songwriter”,  Chris strongest memory of Frankie is his smile and as a singer he says that Frankie is, ” Definitely the equal of Joe Cocker and Rod Stewart. I’m sure Joe and Rod both would agree. They’d better!”


Ever the confident performer he turned his talents to acting, gaining rave reviews for his portrayal of a hard man in Scottish director Peter McDougall’s 1979 BBC Scotland production “Just a Boys Game”. His music has featured in many films and plays including the dramatic, “Sense of Freedom” and a duet of the Ry Cooder song “Why Don’t You Try Me” with singer Sarah Beth for the Soundtrack of the Belgian movie, “Ad Fundum”.

On the 26th of August 1994 Frankie and his partner Annette were in New York meeting old friend Joe Walsh of the Eagles who was performing that night.  After the show and, as was often the case, Annette went to bed leaving Frankie to sit writing songs on his guitar. A few hours later Annette awoke to find Frankie covered in blood and gasping for air. Annette called for an ambulance, willing him to stay alive for some 20 minutes until help arrived. Frankie had suffered a major brain haemorrhage and drifted deep into a coma from which he would not emerge for 5 months.

When Frankie finally gained consciousness he and Annette began to begin the hard struggle back to health.  Frankie’s fortitude was astounding. Shortly after the accident he was given a two percent chance of survival and Annette was told he would never walk or talk again. Defying the odds he, with the support of Annette, spent a further 15 months in hospital learning to walk, talk and regain his life.

A major turning point in Frankie’s rehabilitation came on the day Graham Lyle from Gallagher & Lyle visited Frankie in hospital with his guitar. Graham asked Frankie to play the chord C, forming the chord with his good hand whilst Graham strummed the strings. Frankie not only played C but a succession of other chords. It was on that day Annette knew the old Frankie was back.

Billy Connolly when interviewed by the BBC about Frankie’s story said, “ You have either got the life force or you don’t and Frankie has it by the bucket load”. Frankie has since returned to his home in London where not only does he continue his rehabilitation by learning a new word everyday but with the help of Cormac O’Kane and the Drake Music Project, Frankie has begun to write music again.

The BBC filmed a documentary in 1999 called “Stubborn Kinda Fella” to mark his amazing progress.

Frankie’s website brings us up to date since Frankie’s recovery:


In 2002 a 3 CD tribute album of Frankie Miller covers, featuring artistes like Lulu and Rod Stewart and a charity concert for the Drake Music Trust which featured over 20 live acts at Barrowland in Glasgow including Joe Walsh and Nazareth show the depth of feeling and respect that the music business has for Frankie Miller today.

That opinion was confirmed by the fact that Eagle Records released Frankie Miller’s first eight albums – remixed and remastered for the first time by a British Company and who chose a generous selection of bonus tracks for each album.

Plans for a new Frankie Miller album have been under discussion for a while so it may be that after all of the twists and turns that fate can bring, the best times for Frankie Miller may be yet to come!

These discussions have culminated in the decision to release the first album of new Frankie Miller material for twenty years! – “A Long Way Home”.

A Long Way Home is available here and a deluxe re-issue packages is expected later this year. Some snippets from this package can be heard on Frankie’s website here.

No one is sure what the future holds but Frankie continues to pen the blues. In Annette’s inspiring words, “for Frankie, life just gets better every day”.

www.frankiemiller.net

Adapted from the Barrowland Ballroom Greats by Alec Downie