Steve Miller. Picture: Getty Images

Some people call him the space cowboy. Some call him the gangster of love. Most just call him Steve Miller, the writer of such commercial radio staples as Rock'n Me, Fly Like an Eagle, Abracadabra, Take the Money and Run and, of course, The Joker.

The 69-year-old, who joins the star-studded line-up at West Coast Blues 'N' Roots this weekend, couldn't be anything other than a rock god.

Electric guitar pioneer Les Paul was his godfather. He had his first guitar lessons at age nine from blues legend T-Bone Walker. And when he was a teenager, Miller played Dallas nightclubs with bluesmen Jimmy Reed, Freddie King and Lightnin' Hopkins.

"I had this really great basis for playing blues," Miller says from his holiday home in the ski resort town of Ketchum in Idaho. "But I wanted to make rock'n'roll records."

The singer/guitarist had a fair apprenticeship in rock'n'roll with an early version of the Steve Miller Band backing Chuck Berry for around 20 gigs in the late 60s.

"He was really an amazing artist," the affable rocker drawls. "He looked like a gazelle or something. I mean, he was very taut and thin and beautiful to look at. He was a wonderful dancer and a wonderful guitarist - and he didn't have a clue who he was."

Berry was a "difficult guy to work with", according to Miller, who was one of the few musicians to stand up to the thorny legend.

"One night he was kind of insulting to my band as we were on stage backing him," he recalls. "We came off the stage and I went into his dressing room and I said, 'listen, don't ever do that to me again - you can get another band to back you up any time you want'."

Miller says Berry was like a pussycat after that confrontation. "I'm grateful that I did get to play with him and get to understand him as an artist."

While he has crossed paths with the greatest in blues, rock and pop, Miller is no lightweight himself.

A quick search on YouTube and most people, apart from diehard fans, will discover that they have forgotten more hits than they have remembered.

Miller is proudest of 1976 single Fly Like an Eagle, mainly because it took several years and three attempts in the studio to get it right.

And he is chuffed at the news that You Am I frontman Tim Rogers covered Rock'n Me to close his show at the Rosemount Hotel late last year.

"You know, I wrote Rock'n Me because I had a show to do with Pink Floyd at Knebworth and I needed something big to finish with," Miller says.

"It's really like a garage band tune, anybody can play it. I knew we needed a really big song because I figured we were going to be playing for 120,000 people."

After nearly two decades out of the studio, the Steve Miller Band issued two albums in quick succession - Bingo in 2010 and Let Your Hair Down the year after - with another, potentially a triple album, in the works.

While the royalties have paid for Miller to have homes sprinkled across the US, the fit rocker still loves touring and has done so for the past 40 years, only taking a few years off at the start of the noughties.

The Steve Miller Band has enjoyed two successful tours of Europe in the past few years, partly because they no longer get stopped at borders every day like when they were regular visitors in the 70s and 80s.

And Miller can't wait to get down to Australia, particularly his band's first show in WA.

"This sounds to me like it's going to be a pretty juicy three-week run," he says. "I'm excited to go to Perth just because I want to get on a boat and get on the, what is it, the Indian Ocean?

"I've seen pictures of how beautiful it is."

The West Australian

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