Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Steve Miller

Jet Airliner

Written and originally recorded by Paul Pena (1973, released 2000).
Hit version by The Steve Miller Band (US #8/CAN #3/NZ #12 1977).

Paul Pena’s life could be summed up this way: When life gives you a lemon, you make lemonade.

Born with congenital glaucoma, Pena would become completely blind by age 20. By that time, though, the multi-instrumentalist had landed gigs opening for The Grateful Dead, and Frank Zappa, and playing sessions with B.B. King, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and Bonnie Raitt. Pena found some permanency, too, as a member of the T-Bone Walker Blues Band. And, it was while traveling to the Montreaux Jazz Festival in 1972, to perform with Walker, that Pena wrote ‘Jet Airliner’.