The Miller Brothers and Me by Hag part 3

For this last part of Hag’s piece we are starting with Steve Miller’s K.Ostra …’its out there’ CD which Phil released on Crescent Discs in 2002 featuring Steve Miller on keyboards, Hag on guitar, Nick Biggins bass, Steve Ash bass, Phillipe Janoyer percussion, Paul Dufour drums, and recorded by Steve Lane.

Part 3. Too sad to call.

Steve Miller’s death was of course tragic for Phil, Min his wife and Stephanie his young daughter. I can recall the moment I was told he had died and I just collapsed in tears. Steve was my first close friend who had moved on to a better place in my lifetime. I knew, as he was for those family and friends of course irreplaceable.

Phil Miller wrote these liner notes of the IN CAHOOTS ‘Out of the Blue’ CD released in March 2000. ‘Over the past three years since the release of PARALLEL, amongst the various compositions I have written, has emerged a strong contingent with a distinctive blues influence. With several of these pieces completed it seemed to me that they would be best served if I put them together in a suite. With this in mind I wrote the remaining compositions trying to contrast and complement the existing pieces.’ Whilst Phil was writing these it coincided with the re-release of the DELIVERY album ‘A Fools Meeting’ echoing the strong blues influence of that original band of Steve & Phil and hence the title ‘Out of the Blue’. Phil dedicated this CD to his brother Steve. He asked if he could use one of my images for the cover for which I was more than happy to oblige. Asking what my fee would be I replied. ‘My first guitar lesson’. Phil was 53 days older than me so after 38 years of playing I thought it was time to have some instruction from an elder master. 
I recall having that lesson at Colvestone Crescent but not what we did, except that Phil took it seriously in offering me instruction.
On May 12th 2001 with Phil’s assistance the remaining members of K.Ostra, Hag guitar, Steve Ash bass and Paul Dufour drums, Nick Biggins having moved to Scotland and Phillipe Janoyer returning to France, organised a tribute concert in memory of Steve Miller at St Johns Ark in Old Harlow. (This event is played in full at the begining of part one of my saga).To quote the flyer: ‘Plus esteemed augmentation from Peter Lemer piano, Mark Hewins guitar, Lol Coxhill sax, Phil Miller guitar and Dave Hammer vibraphone & percussion.’ Yes quite a line up out of respect for Steve Miller. Yes three guitars but we were all very familiar with each others abilities. It wasn’t a competition. Myself, Peter Lemer, Paul Dufour and Steve Ash had a rehearsal for the tunes we were thinking of playing. I then took the risk, with such an esteemed list of improvisors, to write a kind of set list with outline arrangements. This was met with some amusement by the other players when I handed them around. Some were vague such as the first tune ‘Free Up for Steve’ which became a 13′ 8” performance. Next a composition by myself. Then there was a liberal interpretation of Brahms Lullaby. Two of Peter Lemer’s and a kind of John Scofield’s Groan Man. Blue Monk, two other free pieces and an Andrew Hill. An eclectic mix which of course the assembled musicians took great liberties with in following my arrangements in the spirit of Steve Miller. It was a great evening. Phil Miller released K. Ostra’s ‘…its out there’ ( appearing at the start of this part3) and Steve Miller’s ‘See Here’ collection of piano solos both from the St Johns Ark recordings on his Crescent Discs label in 2002( appearing at the begining of part 2). Here is Paul Newnan’s review of these CDs:

It has been a great honour and privilege to have known played & performed with both Steve & Phil and all the other wonderful musicians I have met through this relationship. I am ever surprised that many were and still are willing to play music with me.
Phil and Herm did make the journey into the deepest Fens to visit me around this time. I remember Phil banking up with coal on the open fire saying ‘That will keep it going’ and cosy we were. I also appreciated his compliments about a track from a collection I had made in the 90’s of my own compositions I called ‘Music for metaphysical lovers’ called ‘Funky takes and funky gives’ which included his brother Steve on Electric piano. Here it is:

      1. Funky-takes-and-funky-gives-Hag-with-Steve

There is however another person only mentioned briefly in the above tract but who was ever present. She still is to this day pivotal in supporting Phil Millers’ music. She told me many years ago, whilst talking about Phil’s early career, that when she moved to her spacious flat in Dalston in 1980, she and Phil decided to join forces and started living together. With Steve’s help they sound-proofed one of the rooms to use as a music studio and from then on Phil spent most of his time in there writing his music. When he formed his band they used the flat for rehearsals. He recorded there, started the record label there. The flat became the hub for Phil’s music. Well that certainly paid dividends not just for Phil but to all those who love the music he created and all those touched by such a creative force. I am of course talking of Herm. When Phil’s life was approaching the end I did manage to visit him before I was due to go into hospital for my second new hip. What a moving meeting, how strong he was towards what he knew he was facing, just as his brother Steve had been. Impressive as ever. Below is the letter I wrote to Herm explaining why I was not able to attend his funeral which sums up my feelings for  both Phil & Herm.

Dear Herm,I am thinking of you and your family, sending you love and strength at this difficult time.You were inseparable and Phil’s rock. He only ever spoke of you in terms of the love and care you both shared. Yours is a jewel of a loving relationship. I was so moved and honoured to have seen you both just a few weeks ago. It was with saddened heart that I heard the news. How amazing Phil was both in that meeting and the conversations we have had recently and of course all the rest. He appreciated his life both creatively as a musician and with you. He considered himself a lucky man to have been able to do what he loved doing and spending that time with someone he loved. I need not stress the gifts he gave the world and the influence he had on so many people. He was truly a gentleman first. Always respectful and kind in his praise of others whilst exhibiting a true modesty towards his own exceptional talents. He consistently expressed a positive outlook on his current difficulties and the life you both led. Impressive without shirking the reality of his position and caring for those around him. Phil was a fine appreciative friend and again I am honoured to have known him and Steve, played with him and Steve and having contributed photographically to In Cahoots. Sadly I am unable to attend the ceremony on Saturday. I want to express to you how I feel and offer my deepest condolences. I have found a way with the help of Pete Lemer to be there but upon discussion with my nurse it would be reckless of me to attempt such a long day in my current position despite my healing well. I will be present in spirit with you all as Phil will always live in our hearts.
Wishing you peace 25 October 2017
Herm is still doing amazing things supporting Phil’s’ music. Not least by creating this rich gift of Phil Miller – the Legacy and giving it freely for all to enjoy.
Post Scripts:
I also photographed Steve as a model.
In 2002  I used this portrait on the back of his ‘See Hear’ Solo Piano CD and also in the book ‘Understanding Dreams’ (New Holland Publishers UK Ltd) for which I was commissioned to contribute numerous illustrations. This was in retrospect portentous. They were all to illustrate dreams of course. Completely beyond my choice were three pictures I was asked to make which perfectly illustrated Steve Millers final journey.The shoot was 19th April 1998 before he was diagnosed though he was aware that he was not well. The first as a marked man bearing the imprint of a cross.

The second was a recreation of Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ as a Scottish farmer. The realisation of the situation
The third as flying away into a psychedelic heaven.
By the time the book was published in 1999 Steve had gone.
We, myself, Steve Lane, Paul Dufour and Nick Biggins would also like to remember Phillipe Janoyer who was the next to leave us after Steve Miller followed by Steve Ash a few years ago. Sadly to this list I have now added Paul Dufour. May they be at peace. Here is a photo of Paul and Phillipe together:

Finally this image, photographed 08/03/1988 commissioned by ‘The Telegraph Magazine’
As described on my web site I was not concerned with the face just the hood.