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Lowdown by Boz Scaggs

Album: Silk DegreesReleased: 1976Charted:
  • Scaggs wrote this song with the keyboard player David Paich, who would later form the band Toto and write many of their hits. "Lowdown" was the first song that Scaggs and Paich wrote together; it was Silk Degrees producer Joe Wissert who put them together.

    In our interview with Boz Scaggs, he explained: "We took off for a weekend to this getaway outside of LA where there was a piano and stayed up all night banging around ideas. We hit on 'Lowdown,' and then we brought it back to the band and recorded it. We were just thrilled with that one. That was the first song that we attempted, and it had a magic to it."
  • This was the second single released from Silk Degrees. The first was "It's Over," which charted at a modest #38 in May 1976. Scaggs had little name recognition at the time, and sales were stagnant for the album until an R&B radio station in Cleveland started playing "Lowdown." Other stations followed suit, and it quickly became clear that the song had crossover appeal and hit potential. Scaggs' label, CBS, released it as a single and it climbed to #3 on the Hot 100 in October, spurring sales of the album along the way.
  • The song is about a girl who doesn't appreciate what her man gives her. The "dirty lowdown" is the honest truth - what Scaggs is encouraging this poor sap to face.

    The word "Lowdown" was popular slang meaning a summary of what's going on for real. The first Hot 100 entry with the term in the title came in 1969 with the instrumental "Lowdown Popcorn" by James Brown (#41, 1969). Next came Chicago's song "Lowdown" (#35, 1971).
  • Along with keyboard player David Paich, two other future Toto members also played on this track: drummer Jeff Porcaro and bass player David Hungate. The Silk Degrees marked the first time that Scaggs used these studio pros, and it was also his first album produced by Joe Wissert, who was a staff producer at Columbia Records who had previously worked with Earth, Wind & Fire.

    The crew for the album found just the right sound, a Disco-blend that could play in dance clubs and pool halls. Scaggs credits Wissert for giving him and the other musicians plenty of freedom in the studio, resulting in one of the most successful albums of the '70s - Silk Degrees went on to sell over five million copies.
  • This won the Grammy for Best R&B Song of 1976, making Scaggs the first white artist to win the award (Leo Sayer was the second, taking the trophy the next year for "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.")
  • The producers of Saturday Night Fever asked to use this in their movie, but Scaggs' manager turned them down and instead used it in the movie Looking For Mr. Goodbar. Not a good move - Saturday Night Fever became one of the best-selling soundtracks of all time.
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Comments: 11

Does anyone know the name of Boz Scaggs' Manager at the time of ...Lowdown & Silk Degrees? ...from Seattle but cannot remember his name. Thank You.Ray Bigs - Whidbey Island, Wa
On September 25th 1976, Boz Scaggs performed "Lowdown" on NBC-TV program 'Saturday Night Live'...
At the time the song was in its first of two weeks at #5 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on October 3rd it would peak at #3 for two weeks...
{See 3rd post below}.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
Great song... have always loved it! I remember when it first came out around the time I graduated from high school. I played flute (still do), so you KNOW I love that flute and piccolo!Chele - Philly, Pa
Aug 2014,

Odd they didn't know they had a Hit on their hands and some DJ discovered it later. Shows how sometimes you never know?
Markantney - Biloxe
On June 28th 1976, "Lowdown" by Boz Scaggs entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #82; and October 3rd, 1976 it peaked at #3 (for 2 weeks) and spent 22 weeks on the Top 100...
Was track one of side two on his seventh studio album, 'Silk Degrees', and the album peaked at #2 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart and spent 115 weeks on the chart...
Three other tracks from the album also made the Top 100 chart; "It's Over" (#38), "What Can I Say" (#42), and "Lido Shuffle" (#11)...
Boz, born William Royce Scaggs, celebrated his 70th birthday twenty days ago on June 8th, 2014.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
Apr 2014, Ditto Mike in Alabama. He's got tons of cuts I like: slow, smooth, uptempo. I own a ton of his 70s, 80s, 90s catalog. He did a Jazzy type CD back in 2001 called "Dig"; it's one of his best but it came out around 9/11 so it didn't get it's due props. He's RRHOF level to me.Markantney - Biloxi, Ms
There is a very good instrumental version of this great song on David Garfield's "Tribute To Jeff". Garfield also recorded a version with the great Alex Ligertwood on vocals (ex- Santana) on his "Tribute to Jeff - Revisited". Check them out at www.creatchy.comLaurent - Manama, Bahrain
I have loved the sound of this song since the day the album was promoted on TV ("Boz!") I'm just now learning the (to me) surprising and memorable lyrics. Now it all makes sense. I love this song. John 46John - Fort Worth, Tx
Just a cool song. Boz Scagg's music does not get enough recognitionMike - Hueytown , Al
Nice... when I first heard it, I thought it was more of a mellow disco. Good summer song.Chase - Pasadena, Ca
Jeff Porcaro on drums on this one as on all of "silk degree's"Ken - Leicester, Nc
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