June 1982: Steve Miller Band Releases "Abracadabra"

GONNA REACH OUT AND GRAB YA
Photo Credit
(Capitol Records)

Abracadabra arrived at a critical point in the history of the Steve Miller Band. By 1982, the rocker's commercial peak of the mid-'70s had waned considerably in the wake of new genres on the block like disco, punk and new wave. Struggling to fill arenas, he'd eventually take a six-year hiatus from touring. When he returned to the road in 1988, Miller's status had shifted from has-been to classic rock legend. He's been touring ever since.

Released on June 15, 1982, Abracadara would come to be defined by its chart-topping title track, which hit #1 for the week of September 14, 1982. The song would be toppled just one week later by Chicago's "Hard to Say I'm Sorry." The abstract music video was an early MTV staple. The Abracadabra album peaked at #3 for the week of September 1982. Ahead of the Steve Miller Band: John Cougar's American Fool at #1, and Fleetwood Mac's Mirage at #2.

"/Abracadabra' was a really slick hit," Miller told Best Classic Bands. "It’s a really great piece of music. I had the music and I love playing it. The audience loves it. I play it all the time. Every night I get a standing ovation for the guitar work on 'Abracadabra.' When I wrote the lyrics, I was thinking about the Supremes," he revealed.

"I just started thinking about the Supremes and I went, 'Gonna reach out and grab ya,' and I just wrote the lyrics in 12 minutes. So I always say the song took three years and 12 minutes. Capitol Records hated it. They said, 'We’re not getting any phone reaction; radio doesn’t like it.' I said, 'OK, f--k you,' and I decided to go to Europe to promote it. When I got there, it was number one everywhere in the world except the United States and Japan. Then it became number one in the States too."

For many DJs, the "Abracadabra" B-side, "Macho City," was the real hit. Taken from Miller's Circle of Love album, the nearly 17-minute track is still spun by elite DJs around the world.

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