Frankie Miller has been clawing his way back from the brink of death for the past two decades. He once had a voice, like Otis Redding’s after a bottle of Macallan and a pack of Marlboros, that tore through a handful of records in the mid-’70s that shake and ache like nothing else. Then, out of nowhere, a massive, bloody stroke took his voice away from him. Now, he’s left fighting to talk. Struggling to walk. Unable to hold his guitar by himself. But Frankie doesn’t want sympathy. He just wants his music to be heard.
Heard by people like you.
So what can we do to turn you on to the ragged beauty of Frankie Miller? Let’s start with a playlist that distills Frankie’s single-malt soul down to its barrel-strength essence. It’s red-dirt R&B mixed with blue-collar rock ‘n’ roll, delivered with end-of-the-world intensity. And it’s pretty clear what fanboys Rod Stewart and Bob Seger found in his music.
But we understand just pressing play isn’t enough. You need context. Don’t worry. We’re with you. Let’s go deeper.
Let’s start with some heavyweight endorsements: Rod Stewart called Frankie “the best white singer ever.” Bob Seger claims Frankie as “a huge influence.” Allen Toussaint, the gentleman genius from New Orleans who arguably invented funk, said Frankie “had the soul of Otis Redding.” Oh, and speaking of Otis Redding, his own widow said, “That li’l ole white boy has the blackest voice since Otis.” That’s Frankie singing alongside Phil Lynott on Thin Lizzy’s epic “Still in Love With You” (the one Sade covered). Esteemed author and L.A. Times music critic Robert Hilburn insists: “Pop history is filled with tales of excellent singers who failed to connect commercially, but few British singers have deserved greater recognition more than Miller.”
Next, how about a list of platinum-certified, bona-fide legends who have covered his songs? Here you go: Ray Charles. Etta James. Bob Seger. The Eagles. Roy Orbison. Bettye Lavette. Joe Walsh. Joe Cocker. The Everly Brothers. Johnny Cash and Waylon Goddamn Jennings. These aren’t artists who sing any song pushed in front of them. But they sang Frankie’s. Almost as well as Frankie did.
But the Frankie Miller story goes deeper. Like Searching for Sugarman, Twenty Feet From Stardom, or A Band Called Death deep. It’ll tear you up. It’ll give you a reason to believe. You see, 20 years ago, while in New York to catch an Eagles concert and start work with a new group that might have finally given him the recognition he always deserved, Frankie Miller suffered a massive brain hemorrhage. His doctors doubted he’d live at all, and advised those closest to him to let him go. This short BBC documentary, featuring Rod Stewart, Billy Connolly, and Jools Holland, tells the story of Frankie’s inspiring battle back from the brink of death and the profound role music has played in his recovery.
We can’t do anything to help Frankie Miller except to wish for continued progress in his rehabilitation and strength to the family, friends, doctors, and therapists who are supporting him. We can also honor his deepest, most desperate wish: we can listen to his music. Our goal is to turn you into a lifelong Miller fan and spread the gospel of Frankie to your friends as well. When that happens, team Trunkworthy can go to sleep knowing that we—you and us—did the right thing by this incredible artist.