“For 50 years, I’ve looked at music the way I look at working at the mattress factory in Mississippi where I used to work, you’re just doing a job.” Known as something of a truculent character, bluesman Sam Myers viewed life like he played and sang – in starkly uncomplicated terms. He died today in 2006.
Blues harmonica player/vocalist Samuel Joseph Myers died at the age of 70. Born in Laurel, Mississippi, USA in February 1936, Sam followed a well trodden-path from the South to Chicago – although he had gained a music scholarship in the Windy City rather than travelling in search of employment.
Known as a drummer at that time (having also studied the trumpet), Sam accompanied the likes of Jimmy Rogers and Howlin’ Wolf and gained a regular slot backing slide guitarist Elmore James – with whom he began blowing harmonica.
Various attempts at a solo career culminated in what is now something of a cult classic from 1956 – “Sleeping in the Ground” later turning up in the repertoire of both Blind Faith and Robert Cray.
Finding his way back down South to his native Mississippi during the 1960s, Myers (by now almost blind) recorded both as a solo artist and with the Mississippi Delta Blues Band. However the most high profile period of Sam’s career would come when he teamed up with Texan blues guitarist Anson Funderburgh – who had featured “Sleeping in The Ground” in his live set for some time.
First meeting in 1982, Myers joined Funderbergh’s band The Rockets when previous vocalist Darrell Nulisch quit in 1986 and the new alliance took Myers to Europe and beyond in addition to nine W.C.Handy Awards. The regular income was also welcome, in the continued absence of royalties owed from previous work – a major bone of contention for the musician.
What proved to be Sam’s final solo album arrived in 2004, “Coming From The Old School” and the lifelong smoker was diagnosed with throat cancer the following year, which later necessitated the removal of his larynx.
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And here’s some footage of Sam in action with Anson Funderburgh: