Magic Sam / Feb 14, 1937 - Dec 1, 1969

Sam Maghett aka Magic Sam! Not just the best barbecue on Chicago's West Side, but also one of my very favorite blues guitar players and singers! From his first record "All Your Love" (as Good Rockin' Sam, for the Cobra label) in 1957 until his early death in 1969 (just 32!), his rockin' sound and pleading voice was a staple on the blues circuit.

Born in the Mississippi Delta into a family of sharecroppers, he built his own cigar-box guitars as a kid and when the family moved to Chicago in 1950 he had his eyes on the prize and joined a gospel group to get his career going. He started tearing up the Chicago blues scene starting in '56 when he first joined the band of Homesick James and was runnin' with young Syl Johnson. In a scene full of massive talents (Luther Allison, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Magic Slim, etc) Sam still stood out with his shimmering tremolo and nasty R&B bands with horns and even a touch of rockabilly in his sound. After serving time from a dishonorable discharge from the Army (desertion), he cut a couple of bonafide classic albums for Delmark, West Side Soul and Black Magic.

He made some tours of Europe, winning acclaim everywhere he went, and was a sure-fire bet to hit the big time. He was rumored to be signing with Stax but a heart attack put an end to everything. His legacy is intact and he stands to this very day as the #1 man in the annals of the West Side sound.

Here's some classic footage of Sam at the 1969 American Folk Blues Festival, improvising a boogie on a guitar he borrowed from Earl Hooker.

Here's a great soul-blues tune from West Side Soul, one of my favorite records:

Tagged: blues, Celebrate Icons, Chicago, Delmark, guitar, Magic Sam, rockabilly, soul!, soul/funk, Video, vintage footage

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