MAGIC SAM: complete Delmark recordings…!!!

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Magic Sam

Magic Sam (Samuel Maghett) was one of the most dynamic and gifted blues musicians during his short lifetime (1937-1969). Born a few miles northeast of this site, Maghett began his performing career in Grenada and lived in this house until he moved to Chicago in the early 1950s. The youthful energy and spirit of Magic Sam, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, and Freddie King modernized Chicago blues into an explosive, electrifying new style in the late 1950s and early ’60s.

Magic Sam, unlike most of his blues contemporaries, was born and raised in a community where fiddle music, hoedowns and square dances held sway over the blues among the African American population. Roy Moses, a renowned black fiddler in Grenada County, was not only the leading caller of steps at such dances, but also a mentor and inspiration to younger local musicians. Samuel Maghett carried these musical influences with him to Chicago in 1950. Blues guitarist Syl Johnson, who later became a nationally known soul singer, recalled that Sam was playing “a hillbilly style” at the time, and Johnson began teaching him blues and boogies. Sam developed a house-rocking blues style unparalleled in its rhythmic drive; it may well have had roots in the dance tempos of the reels and breakdowns he learned in Grenada.

Magic Sam was better known, however, for the heartfelt vocals and stinging guitar work of his 1957-58 blues recordings produced by Willie Dixon for the Cobra label in Chicago such as “All Your Love” and “Easy Baby,” some of which featured another Grenada native, Billy Stepney, on drums. Sam’s singing reflected another early influence, that of the church. During the ‘50s he often returned to visit and perform in Grenada, where he was credited with helping to popularize the blues. Sam and his combo won a local talent contest at the Union Theater which enabled them to compete on a show in Memphis promoted by WDIA radio. After performing under several stage names, he settled on “Magic” Sam–to rhyme with his surname.

In Chicago, Sam was at the vanguard of a new West Side blues movement. He remained a popular nightclub act during the 1960s and was poised to take his career to a new level, after recording two acclaimed albums for Delmark Records and turning in legendary festival performances in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and in Europe, but he died of a heart attack on December 1, 1969. His music has continued to influence generations of blues, R&B, and rock musicians.

Magic Sam’s birthplace now lies submerged beneath Grenada Lake. The Redgrass and Hendersonville communities where he spent his earliest years, along with the former town of Graysport, were flooded in the late 1940s to create the lake as a flood control reservoir. The Maghett family relocated here to the Knoxville community, where Sam resided until he was thirteen. Maggitt Street, just south of this site, represents one of many local variations of the family surname.

content © Mississippi Blues Commission

Magic Sam – West Side Soul
Delmark 615
w/ Mighty Joe Young. Five Stars from Downbeat!

Sam’s Singing and playing have their roots deeply implanted in the Mississippi soil of his youth as well as in the traumatic everyday life of the raw West Side. But like all good blues and all great art, he reaches far beyond his ethnic origins and his everyday experiences and speaks for us all. That is why you will like this album regardless of your previous taste if you are reasonably “aware,” “hip,” “turned-on” or whatever your generation’s slang may be for being in touch with humanity and life.

One of the greatest blues albums of all time, West Side Soul was chosen by Living Blues magazine as one of it’s top ten Desert Island Blues Discs. The new Digipak case contains previously unissued photos and 1960s pluggers (promoting west side gigs) from the private collection of Bill Lindemann. The source material for the CD is the original 1967 analog stereo mix by Stu Black who recorded many of Delmark’s classic 1960s blues and jazz recordings. With Mighty Joe Young, guitar; Stockholm Slim, piano; Earnest Johnson or Mac Thompson, bass; Odie Payne Jr. or Odie Payne III, drums. 12 songs include That’s All I Need, I Need You So Bad, Feelin’ Good, All Your Love, Don’t Want No Woman, Sweet Home Chicago and more.

  • Magic Sam – vocals, guitar
  • Mighty Joe Young – guitar
  • Stockholm Slim – piano
  • Earnest Johnson – bass
  • Odie Payne – drums
  • Mac Thompson – bass (1,3,8)
  • Odie Payne, III – drums (1,3,8)


Magic Sam – Black Magic
Delmark 620

Recorded on October 23 and November 6, 1968, Black Magic was released only days before Magic Sam’s untimely passing on December 1, 1969; he was only 32. The album went on to win a W.C. Handy Award in the classic blues album category.

With Eddie Shaw, tenor sax; Mighty Joe Young, guitar; Lafayette Leake, piano; Mack Thompson, bass; Odie Payne, Jr., drums.


Magic Sam – Rockin’ Wild In Chicago
Delmark DG 765 (1963-1968)
Compact Disc

Even though he has now been gone for longer than his 32 year life span, Magic Sam continues to epitomize the “west side” school of Chicago blues musicians. His finger-plucked fleet-fingered long lines, screaming bends and squeezed chords, hand vibrato, driving rhythms and trademark tremolo added up to an explosive package which still draws constant attempts at replication from his many disciples. The quavering melisma in his voice and its counterpart guitar tremolo combined to give his music an ethereal undulating quality. Nobody rocked the blues any wilder than Magic Sam did, especially in front of his home crowd in Chicago. Complete notes enclosed by Dick Shurman

  • Magic Sam − guitar, vocals
  • Eddie Shaw – tenor saxophone, vocals (tracks 9-12)
  • A.C. Reed – tenor saxophone, vocals (tracks 11 & 12)
  • Tyrone Carter – electric piano (tracks 9 & 10)
  • Mack Thompson – bass
  • Odie Payne (tracks 1-12), “Huckleberry Hound” (Robert Wright) (tracks 13-16) – drums


Magic Sam – Magic Sam Live
Delmark 645

Live recordings from the Alex Club in Chicago (1963-64) and at the Ann Arbor Blues Festival (1969).


Magic Sam – Live At The Avant Garde
Delmark 833

Before Magic Sam scored with 1967’s West Side Soul (Delmark 615) his recorded legacy included a handful of sides for Cobra in the late `50s, Chief in the early `60s and a few miscellaneous 45s in the mid-`60s. But just when it looked like things were going to really take off for Sam he passed away on December 1, 1969 at the age of 32. Delmark issued 1968’s Black Magic (Delmark 620) and there have been several posthumous releases of live recordings including the classic Live (Delmark 645). This album comes from a June 22, 1968 live concert recorded at the Avant Garde in Milwaukee. It features Magic Sam, vocals, guitar; Big Mojo Elem, bass and Bob Richey, drums. Over 65 minutes including “That’s All I Need” “I Need You So Bad”, “Two Trains Running”, “Come On In This House” and more.


Magic Sam – The Magic Sam Legacy
Delmark DD 651 (1997)
Compact Disc

The music on this CD consists entirely of previously un-issued material most of which was recorded at the same sessions that produced Magic Sam’s two legendary albums, West Side Soul and Black Magic. Both of these albums are now recognized as blues classics; West Side Soul was chosen by the readers of Living Blues Magazine as one of the top ten blues albums of all time and both received W.C. Handy awards in the classic blues album category.


Magic Sam – Give Me Time
Delmark 654

Magic Sam, like another Sam who lived in Chicago, Sam Cooke, was among the greatest vocalists of all time. Those who appreciate intense, passionate blues/soul singing will love this album. Although Magic Sam was also a genius guitarist, guitar aficionados would do better to experience any of the other Magic Sam Delmark releases.

Similar to Magic Sam Live (Delmark 645) these performances were recorded by a Magic Sam fanatic, on a home tape deck. In this case, though, there was probably no remote thought or plans that the material would ever be released on the commercial market. Bill Lindermann was a close personal friend of Sam’s. He recorded this album at Magic Sam’s house in January 1968 and was also involved in the earlier studio recording of six songs by Sam, four of which appear on the anthology Sweet Home Chicago (Delmark 618) and two on The Magic Sam Legacy (Delmark 651).

The recording quality of “Give Me Time ” is not that of a session done at a professional studio, however, all that is currently technically possible has been done to the original tape source to provide the best sound possible. You’ll hear things like Sam’s kids playing in the house, somebody playing hand drums on one song or somebody reacting to Sam’s singing with a heartfelt ‘yeah!’ – that’s the informal and intimate nature here.

Rare photos taken by Lindermann at Magic Sam’s house which have never before appeared anywhere are enclosed within as well as complete liner notes by the founding editor of Living Blues Magazine, Jim O’Neal. If you don’t have any Magic Sam albums we suggest you start with West Side Soul (Delmark 615) and Black Magic (Delmark 620). If you do and are now ready to get to know Sam more personally then take this album home and enjoy.

AllMusic reviewer Lindsay Planer wrote:

These intimate home tapes from Magic Sam were documented a year before his untimely passing in 1969 … As this collection aptly demonstrates, he is at the top of his game during the informal get together. Epitomizing the D.I.Y. ethos, Sam is heard unadorned, backing himself up on electric guitar … In a stripped down setting, the purity of Sam’s soulful fretwork, coupled with the lack of a rhythm section, seemingly amplifies his clean and ultimately melodic execution … The dearth of Magic Sam’s legacy has made each and every entry essential and Give Me Time is a testament to both his prowess as a musician as well as the crucial offerings that he made to modern blues.”.[2]

The Penguin Guide to Blues Recordings said “He confines his guitar work to chords and riffs but doesn’t stint when a song requires his full voice. Sound quality is acceptable but by the nature this is a record supplementary to the requirements for all but the dedicated collector”.[3]


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