Apr 172013

I’ll leave it to his fans to fill us in on the greatness of this man: Scott Miller (Game Theory, The Loud Family) is dead. As much as I thought I should like his records, they never quite did it for me. But what does that matter? By all accounts he was beloved, respected, and marveled at for his musical talent by friends and fans. That’s not a bad legacy to leave.


  10 Responses to “Scott Miller of Game Theory and The Loud Family Dead”

  1. Just…fuck.

  2. mockcarr

    Damn. I’ll admit I didn’t really keep track of his doings after the Loud Family stuff. I guess I looked at his website with the album ratings, but never got the book. That was wrong of me. Big Shot Chronicles is easily one of my favorite albums from my late college days, despite it having more synthesizers on it than probably the rest of my 80s album purchases combined. I always enjoyed his lyrics, whether I could actually understand them or not.

  3. misterioso

    That’s a damn shame. I recently started listening again to my Game Theory albums, which I liked a lot back in the day but hadn’t put on much in recent years. I have some production-related issues with some of it, but the writing and the hooks carry the day. Like mockcarr I have special fondness for Big Shot Chronicles but they are all pretty good to my ears. Apart from their qualities as records they definitely, as they say, take me back. Bummer. RIP.

    “Erica’s Word,” always a favorite. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJ2Cdw8THX8

  4. BigSteve

    I was a fan, but I haven’t listened to Game Theory in ages. If anyone wants to check them out, go to his site http://www.loudfamily.com/index.html.

    Since the Game Theory albums are all out of print his webmaster has put all of them in a dropbox there for free download.

    Miller was definitely a smart guy, and he made smart music for smart people.

  5. underthefloat

    Crap. I’m stunned to read this. Loved Loud Family even more then Game Theory. What a drag.

  6. I don’t comment here often, but Scott Miller’s music had a profound impact on me (and I likely have the only RTH screen name taken from a Game Theory lyric), so here goes.

    First, I highly recommend Scott’s book “Music: What Happened” regardless of your take on Scott’s own music. His writing has a blend of intelligence, humor (e.g., regarding Candy’s Room: “sort of a cross between the Raspberries and Rambo”), white-lab-coat analysis of studio tricks, ties to personal life events and an “of-a-certain-age” perspective not unlike that found in these halls. Read samples and buy the book here: http://www.loudfamily.com/mwh.html

    I’ve had little success over the years trying to convince most people of Scott Miller’s genius. It seems to be one of those “you get it or you don’t” deals. Despite what would seem to be user-friendly pop melodies, there are barriers to entry that seem to turn off the casual listener – falsetto vocals, prominent synth, electronic drums (on the early records), 17-word song titles, sound collages, in-joke references to his previous records and music history and trivia (e.g., “The Tape of Only Linda” album). It took me about 2-3 years after first hearing Real Nighttime in 1985 to really latch on to where he was coming from.

    But once you do get it, man, what a rewarding world it is: the most gorgeous melodies, sometimes cryptic yet personal and insightful lyrics, excellent production, and a can’t-help-himself habit of going off into the so-called “experimental” deep-end every other record like the prog/concept albums of the early 70’s he (and I) grew up with (in my view, 1987’s Lolita Nation stands with the best of any big-deal double-albums you can name). In theory, he could have had big hits, and he really seemed to want that. In practice, his music appeals to obsessive fans who value beauty in a melody and take the time to pay close attention.

    Scott was often compared to Chilton and Stamey, and there’s no doubting the similarities. But after hearing his early ’77-’79 recordings, I was amazed to find that he hadn’t heard of Big Star or the dB’s until 1980 (via college pal Steve Wynn). It then became apparent to me that he had a well-developed vision of his own since he was a teen, one that, amazingly, just happened to go in the same direction as Radio City, Sister Lovers and Stands for Decibels.

    Although I didn’t know him, by all accounts Scott struck me as a “good egg” who avoided the usual traps musicians get into. He had some degree of success and toured regularly in the 80s, but held onto his Silicon Valley software engineering job throughout (this was long before every musician was a web developer). He was apparently incredibly smart and gifted in a variety of areas beyond music, and in the last 10 years became a seemingly well-adjusted family man. I think this was part of what hit me so hard about his death. I had a sort of “why him and not Keith Richards?” reaction at first.

    He was a great man. His long out-of-print Game Theory records are now available for free download at http://www.loudfamily.com/. I’d recommend “Big Shot Chronicles” (his most accessible, I think) to start, and then Real Nighttime. If you make it that far, go for Lolita Nation.

  7. EXCELLENT write up, noonetwisting! Thank you. I will definitely pick up his book and then see if that helps as I revisit his music. I was first led to Game Theory on the advice of fellow dB’s’ fans, and although I could clearly hear a similarity to Stamey’s whimsical, experimental side, the long list of impediments you outlined hit me like a brick! Maybe getting inside the guy’s head, through his prose, will unlock passageways to skirt around the aural touches that always put me off in the past.

    Your Keith Richards question is fantastic – no disrespect to Keef, of course. Was a cause of death ever announced?

  8. Just saw this on Facebook. Hope it’s legit: http://www.gofundme.com/2nz0vk

  9. Thanks, Mod. I just used Keef as an all-purpose archetype of the self-destructive rock types who somehow defy all medical sense and live on to be senior citizens. Miller seemed to be 180 degrees from that whole lifestyle; this was one of the reasons I had a lot of respect for him (after discovering early on that many of my musical heroes were junkies or just plain idiots). No cause of death was announced.

  10. It’s legit. Joe Becker is a friend of Scott’s from childhood and was his drummer in early 90’s Game Theory/Loud Family (he was also the drummer for Thin White Rope). I just noticed that fellow good egg Gary Waleik just donated.

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