St. Mark’s School of Texas plays a prominent role in “Growing Up with Steve Miller,” a tribute by Max Marshall in Texas Monthly.
Marshall writes of meeting Miller when the rock star returned to Dallas to play a centennial concert for the school. David W. Dini, now the school’s Eugene McDermott Headmaster, helped bring Miller back into the fold:
The secret reason I got to tour with Steve Miller: my old school is a bit of a cult. It’s not that uncommon for alums to engrave the school crest on their cowboy boots and put St. Mark’s in their will. To be clear, Steve didn’t graduate from St. Mark’s; right before his senior year, he got expelled, he says, for having a bad attitude and for running an underground newspaper. (He eventually graduated from Woodrow Wilson.) He more or less excommunicated himself for five decades, until Mr. Dini reached out. Steve Miller forgave St. Mark’s, Mr. Dini became one of his closest friends, bygones were allowed to be bygones, and Steve’s born-again school love brought him to our centennial concert.
Marshall describes the night he first played a solo with the band:
I chugged rhythm chords for a few verses, until Steve tilted his head to say, Take a solo! Then I kind of blacked out. I wish I could say that I tuned in and traveled to some astral plane, but the truth is, I just fell into muscle memory to avoid falling apart. I’m pretty sure I improvised with the same licks I had used in the sound check, although that’s just an educated guess. I blacked in three songs later, soaked, and walked off the stage to find Tim McGraw smoking a cigarette and mouthing the lyrics to “Rock’n Me.”
… Once the band and the crowd were done rock’n each other, I decided to rejoin the audience. Mr. and Mrs. Dini and I walked downstairs and into a cohort of highly enthusiastic older female fans, one of whom gave me an impromptu backrub. Another asked me in a gravelly baritone to sign a ticket stub “for her daughter,” and Mr. Dini decided it was time for the bus. On our way out, middle-aged men apparently impressed by my brief time in the spotlight lifted their Styrofoam cups in our direction.
After the show, at our hotel, Steve opened his Tupperware box of Cuban cigars and told me that I should never reenter an audience after playing on a stage. In his words, one reason he’s tried to remain low profile for decades is that, once you’ve been touched by the spotlight, boundaries between you and strangers get destroyed in a pretty frightening way. I nodded and bit into the Steve Miller Band–themed confection that the hotel’s pastry chef had sent up—a frilly, blue icing Pegasus on a white layer cake.