Magic Sam

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Magic Sam
Birth nameSamuel Gene Maghett
Born(1937-02-14)February 14, 1937
Grenada County, Mississippi, U.S.
DiedDecember 1, 1969(1969-12-01) (aged 32)
Genres Blues
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • Guitar
  • vocals
Years active1957–1969

Samuel Gene Maghett (February 14, 1937 – December 1, 1969), [1] known as Magic Sam, was an American Chicago blues musician. He was born in Grenada County, Mississippi, and learned to play the blues from listening to records by Muddy Waters and Little Walter. [2] After moving to Chicago at the age of 19, he was signed by Cobra Records and became well known as a bluesman after the release of his first record, "All Your Love", in 1957. He was known for his distinctive tremolo guitar playing. [3]

The Chicago blues is a form of blues music indigenous to Chicago, Illinois. Chicago blues is an electric blues style of urban blues.

Grenada County, Mississippi U.S. county in Mississippi

Grenada County is a county located in the U.S. state of Mississippi. As of the 2010 census, the population was 21,906. Its county seat is Grenada. The county is named for the province of Granada in southern Spain. Its western half is part of on the Mississippi Delta. Cotton cultivation was important to its economy well into the 20th century.

Muddy Waters American blues singer and guitarist

McKinley Morganfield, known professionally as Muddy Waters, was an American blues singer-songwriter and musician who is often cited as the "father of modern Chicago blues", and an important figure on the post-war blues scene. His style of playing has been described as "raining down Delta beatitude".


The stage name Magic Sam was devised by Sam's bass player and childhood friend Mack Thompson at Sam's first recording session for Cobra, as an approximation of "Maghett Sam". The name Sam was using at the time, Good Rocking Sam, was already being used by another artist. [4]

Life and career

Maghett moved to Chicago in 1956, where his guitar playing earned him bookings at blues clubs on the West Side. [2] He recorded singles for Cobra Records from 1957 to 1959, including "All Your Love" and "Easy Baby". They did not reach the record charts but had a profound influence, far beyond Chicago's guitarists and singers. Together with recordings by Otis Rush and Buddy Guy (also Cobra artists), the Westside Sound was a manifesto for a new kind of blues. [5] Around this time Magic Sam worked briefly with Homesick James Williamson. [5] Magic Sam gained a following before being drafted into the U.S. Army. He served six months in prison for desertion and received a dishonorable discharge. [6]

Otis Rush American blues guitarist

Otis Rush Jr. was an American blues guitarist and singer-songwriter. His distinctive guitar style featured a slow-burning sound and long bent notes. With qualities similar to the styles of other 1950s artists Magic Sam and Buddy Guy, his sound became known as West Side Chicago blues and was an influence on many musicians, including Michael Bloomfield, Peter Green and Eric Clapton.

Buddy Guy American blues guitarist and singer

George "Buddy" Guy is an American blues guitarist and singer. He is an exponent of Chicago blues and has influenced eminent guitarists including Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jeff Beck, Gary Clark Jr. and John Mayer. In the 1960s, Guy played with Muddy Waters as a house guitarist at Chess Records and began a musical partnership with the harmonica player Junior Wells.

In 1963, his single "Feelin' Good (We're Gonna Boogie)" gained national attention. He successfully toured the U.S., Britain and Germany. He was signed to Delmark Records in 1967, for which he recorded West Side Soul and Black Magic . [6] He continued performing live and toured with the blues harp player Charlie Musselwhite and Sam Lay. Magic Sam's breakthrough performance was at the Ann Arbor Blues Festival in 1969, [7] which won him many bookings in the U.S. and Europe.

Delmark Records American record label

Delmark Records is the oldest American jazz and blues independent record label. It was founded in 1958 and is based in Chicago, Illinois. The label originated in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1953 when owner Bob Koester released a recording of the Windy City Six, a traditional jazz group, under the Delmar imprint.

<i>West Side Soul</i> 1967 studio album by Magic Sam

West Side Soul is the debut album by Magic Sam. It is cited by Stephen Thomas Erlewine as one of the great electric blues albums.

<i>Black Magic</i> (Magic Sam album) 1968 studio album by Magic Sam

Black Magic is the second studio album by Magic Sam released in 1968 by Delmark Records.

His career was cut short when he suddenly died of a heart attack in December 1969. [2] He was 32 years old. Magic Sam was buried in the Restvale Cemetery, in Alsip, Illinois. In February 1970, the Butterfield Blues Band played at a benefit concert for Magic Sam, at Fillmore West in San Francisco. Also on the bill were Mike Bloomfield, Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite and Nick Gravenites. [8]

Restvale Cemetery is located at 11700 S. Laramie Ave. in Alsip, Illinois, United States, a suburb southwest of the city of Chicago. Many Chicago blues musicians are buried here.

Fillmore West historic rock and roll music venue in San Francisco, California, USA

The Fillmore West was a historic rock and roll music venue in San Francisco, California, which became famous under the direction of concert promoter Bill Graham from 1968 to 1971. Named after The Fillmore at the intersection of Fillmore Street and Geary Boulevard, it stood at the southwest corner of Market Street and South Van Ness Avenue in the Civic Center district. There is now a Honda automobile dealership at that location. In June 2018, the top two floors of the building reopened as SVN West, a new concert and corporate event venue managed by Non Plus Ultra.

Mike Bloomfield American guitarist and composer

Michael Bernard Bloomfield was an American guitarist and composer, born in Chicago, Illinois, who became one of the first popular music superstars of the 1960s to earn his reputation almost entirely on his instrumental prowess, since he rarely sang before 1969. Respected for his guitar playing, Bloomfield knew and played with many of Chicago's blues musicians before achieving his own fame and was instrumental in popularizing blues music in the mid-1960s. He was ranked No. 22 on Rolling Stone's list of "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" in 2003 and No. 42 by the same magazine in 2011. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2012 and, as a member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.

His guitar style, vocals, and songwriting have inspired and influenced many blues musicians. "Magic Sam had a different guitar sound," said his record producer, Willie Dixon. "Most of the guys were playing the straight 12-bar blues thing, but the harmonies that he carried with the chords was a different thing altogether. This tune "All Your Love", he expressed with such an inspirational feeling with his high voice. You could always tell him, even from his introduction to the music." [5]

Willie Dixon American recording artist; blues musician

William James Dixon was an American blues musician, vocalist, songwriter, arranger and record producer. He was proficient in playing both the upright bass and the guitar, and sang with a distinctive voice, but he is perhaps best known as one of the most prolific songwriters of his time. Next to Muddy Waters, Dixon is recognized as the most influential person in shaping the post–World War II sound of the Chicago blues.

Awards and recognition

Partial singles discography

"All Your Love" Cobra 5013AMagic Sam1957Sam Maghett
"Love Me with a Feeling"Cobra 5013BMagic Sam1957Hudson Whittaker (Tampa Red)
"Magic Rocker"CobraMagic SamUnreleased, recorded 1957Sam Maghett
"Love Me This Way"CobraMagic SamUnreleased, recorded 1957Sam Maghett
"Everything Gonna Be Alright"Cobra 5021AMagic Sam1958 Willie Dixon
"Look Whatcha Done"Cobra 5021BMagic Sam1958Sam Maghett
"All Night Long"Cobra 5025AMagic Sam1958Willie Dixon
"All My Whole Life"Cobra 5025BMagic Sam1958Willie Dixon
"Call Me if You Need Me" Artistic 1502A Shakey Jake Harris (featuring Magic Sam)1958Jake Harris
"Roll Your Money Maker"Artistic 1502BShakey Jake Harris (featuring Magic Sam)1958Jake Harris
"Easy Baby"Cobra 5029AMagic Sam1958Willie Dixon
"21 Days in Jail"Cobra 5029BMagic Sam1958Willie Dixon and L.P. Weaver
"Mr. Charlie" Chief C7013AMagic Sam and the Ammons Sisters1960Sam Maghett
"My Love Is Your Love"Chief C7013BMagic Sam and the Ammons Sisters1960Sam Maghett
"Square Dance Rock Part 1"Chief 7017Magic Sam1960Sam Maghett and Boyd Atkins
"Every Night About This Time"Chief C7026AMagic Sam1961 Antoine Domino Jr. and Dave Bartholomew
"Blue Light Boogie"Chief C7033AMagic Sam1961 Jessie Mae Robinson
"You Don't Have to Work"Chief C7033BMagic Sam1961Sam Maghett
"Out of Bad Luck"The Blues 302AMagic Sam1966Sam Maghett and Al Benson
"She Belongs to Me"The Blues 302BMagic Sam1966Sam Maghett and Al Benson
"Respect Me Baby"The Blues 303AShakey Jake Harris (featuring Magic Sam)1966Jake Harris
"A Hard Road"The Blues 303BShakey Jake Harris (featuring Magic Sam)1966Jake Harris

Partial album discography

1967 West Side Soul DelmarkRecorded in Chicago, 1967
1968 Black Magic DelmarkRecorded in Chicago, 1968
1969Raw Blues Live 1969Rock Beat RecordsRecorded in Berkeley, 1969
1980The Late Great Magic SamL+RRecorded 196364, 1969
1981Magic Sam LiveDelmarkRecorded live in Chicago, 196364, and Ann Arbor, 1969
1981Magic TouchBlack MagicRecorded live in Chicago, 1966
1989The Magic Sam LegacyDelmarkOuttakes and alternate takes recorded in Chicago, 196668
1991Give Me TimeDelmarkSolo demo and rehearsal home recordings, 1968
2001With a Feeling The Complete Cobra, Chief & Crash Recordings 19571966WestsideMost pre-Delmark recordings; also available as Out of Luck, P-Vine, 2003
2002Rockin' Wild in ChicagoDelmarkRecorded live in Chicago, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1968
2008Genius: The Final SessionsIntermediaPreviously unreleased
2013Live at the Avant Garde June 22, 1968DelmarkRecorded live at the Avant Garde coffeehouse, Milwaukee, June 22, 1968

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