Marcus Miller was born in Brooklyn
, New York on June 14, 1959 His father was an amateur jazz pianist
and church organist
. He started playing the clarinet
when he was 10 and later learned piano
. Although competent with many instruments, he is considered a bassist
, and his favourite instrument is his 1977 Fender
fretted jazz bass
At age 15, he secured his first professional gig with the New York Club Band.
Kenny Washington, a drummer, introduced Marcus to jazz. Miles Davis, whose band included Marcus' cousin Wynton Kelly, was an early favorite.
Marcus spent the next few years as a studio musician in New York, making sessions with Franklin, Flack, Sanborn and others. In 1980 he joined Davis spent two years with him. "He (Davis) didn't settle for anything mediocre, which helped me develop my style," Marcus says. "I learned from him that you have to be honest about who you are and what you do, If you follow that, you won't have problems."
Miller then produced his first major album, Sanborn's "Backstreet" and issued his own debut record, "Suddenly". In 1986, he produced the fusion album "Tutu" for Davis, on which he played just about every conceivable instrument, followed by his second solo album, "Marcus Miller." He also joined with drummer Lenny White in forming the funk-based band The Jamaica Boys. In 1991 Marcus won a Best R&B Song Grammy for "Power of Love/Love Power," a song he co-wrote with Teddy Vann and Luther Vandross. He returned to live playing in late 1993 with the release of "The Sun Don't Lie." This album was his first successful album, with songs like Panther, and a slapped cover of Weather Report's Teen Town.
In 1994, Miller recorded "Tales," one of the most surprising and challenging works from a jazz artist. With "Tales" Miller re-imagines the landscape of black music and its evolution over the past three decades. Miller incorporated samples of greats such as Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Bill Cosby into this album, which is a novel brew of spoken word, R&B and jazz. "I tried to combine the old style of soulfulness with the new hip-hop rhythm," Marcus says. "There's no real rapping. but there's that flavor. And in the middle, I try to use the '70s as my connecting sound, the sound of Stevie Wonder's "Innervisions" or "Talking Book," or Earth Wind and Fire. I've always combined old and new black music. That's what I have been about, and this is kind of a new way of looking at it."