Sam Myers

Real Name:
Samuel Joseph Myers
Profile:
Blues singer and multi-instrumentalist (harmonica, drums, bass & guitar). Author

b. February 19, 1936 in Laurel, Mississippi
d. July 17, 2006 in Dallas, Texas

Sam Myers, the Mississippi blues singer and harmonica ace whose career got a second wind in Texas, died Monday after a yearlong battle with throat cancer. He was 70.

Mr. Myers died at his home in East Dallas, where he'd lived since 1986 when he left the Delta to join Dallas-based Anson Funderburgh & the Rockets. Diagnosed with throat cancer in February 2005, he had his larynx removed in April at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, and had been recovering at home.

``Sam had his own unique style that people now try to emulate," Funderburgh said Monday in a prepared statement.

``His harmonica playing had this hornlike quality to it that made him sound different than Sonny Boy [Williamson] or Big Walter," said his friend and collaborator, Brian ``Hash Brown" Calway.

``He was a great vocalist and songwriter, too. He'd get up onstage and make up a song on the spot about some girl who'd just broke his heart and it would put chills up your neck."

His best-known song was 1956's ``Sleeping in the Ground," a gritty blues noir about a jealous lover that was later recorded by everyone from Robert Cray to Blind Faith, the British group featuring Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton. Last year, Clapton told the Dallas Morning News, ``I'm a big fan of Sam Myers."

Born in 1936 in Laurel, Miss., and raised near Jackson, Mr. Myers spent most of his life nearly blind, the result of a childhood bout with cataracts. After teaching himself to play drums, he landed a scholarship in the early '50s at a music school in Chicago, where he met Elmore James. He toured with the ``Dust My Broom" hit-maker for nearly a decade and played harmonica on James' 1961 classic ``Look on Yonder Wall."

``Sleeping in the Ground," a solo hit for Mr. Myers, introduced him to a new generation of fans in the 1960s and '70s. But like a lot of 1950s bluesmen, Mr. Myers said he was tricked out of his songwriting royalties.

``It's a disgusting thing, really," Mr. Myers told The Dallas Morning News last year. ``This is a song I wrote, and I didn't even get a dime for it, and everybody else is making money with it."

Funderburgh had been performing ``Sleeping in the Ground" for years when he met Mr. Myers at a concert in Mississippi in 1982. The two became friends, and when original Rockets singer Darrell Nulisch quit in 1986, Mr. Myers joined and moved to Dallas.

With Mr. Myers fronting the group, Anson Funderburgh & the Rockets put out eight CDs and won nine W.C. Handy Awards, the blues equivalent of the Grammys. Mr. Myers won for best harmonica player (1988) and vocalist (1989). He released his first solo album in May 2004, ``Coming From the Old School."

Later that year, Mr. Myers, a lifelong smoker, came down with what doctors originally thought was bronchitis. In February 2005, he was diagnosed with a malignant polyp in his throat and underwent seven weeks of radiation treatment. In August, friends staged a benefit concert featuring Jimmie Vaughan, Delbert McClinton and a brief, surprise harmonica solo by Mr. Myers. It was one of the last times he ever performed.

``Sam's one of the last of the old-school blues guys," McClinton told the Morning News before the show. ``He's out there doing it, night after night after night, and to me, that's the sign of somebody who can't get enough of it."

Yet Mr. Myers didn't like to admit how passionate he was about the blues: ``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," he said last year.

He was famous for his gruff exterior, which was partly a way to keep fans from fawning over him, according to his friends.

Mr. Myers leaves a son, a sister, a brother, and two grandchildren.
© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company. By Thor Christensen
Sites:
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Albums

Sam Myers - My Love Is Here To Stay album art Sam Myers And Anson Funderburgh Sam Myers And Anson Funderburgh - My Love Is Here To Stay (Album) Black Top Records UK 1985 Sell This Version
CD BT-1038 Sam Myers - Sins album art Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets Featuring Sam Myers Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets Featuring Sam Myers - Sins(CD, Album) Black Top Records CD BT-1038 USA & Canada 1988 Sell This Version
CD BT 1049 Sam Myers - Rack 'Em Up album art Anson Funderburgh And The Rockets* Featuring Sam Myers Anson Funderburgh And The Rockets* Featuring Sam Myers - Rack 'Em Up(CD, Album) Black Top Records CD BT 1049 USA & Canada 1989 Sell This Version
Sam Myers - Tell Me What I Want To Hear album art Anson Funderburgh And The Rockets* Featuring Sam Myers Anson Funderburgh And The Rockets* Featuring Sam Myers - Tell Me What I Want To Hear (Album) Black Top Records US 1991 Sell This Version
DT 3032 Sam Myers - T' Is For Texas  album art Hash Brown (2) With Zuzu Bollin, Sam Myers, Darrell Nulisch Hash Brown (2) With Zuzu Bollin, Sam Myers, Darrell Nulisch - T' Is For Texas (CD, Album) Double Trouble Records DT 3032 Netherlands 1993 Sell This Version
CD BT-1111 Sam Myers - Live At The Grand Emporium album art Anson Funderburgh And The Rockets* Featuring Sam Myers Anson Funderburgh And The Rockets* Featuring Sam Myers - Live At The Grand Emporium(CD, Album) Black Top Records CD BT-1111 US 1995 Sell This Version
Sam Myers - That's What They Want album art Anson Funderburgh & Sam Myers Anson Funderburgh & Sam Myers - That's What They Want (Album) Black Top Records US 1997 Sell This Version
Sam Myers - Change In My Pocket album art Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets Featuring Sam Myers Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets Featuring Sam Myers - Change In My Pocket (Album) Bullseye Blues & Jazz Europe 1999 Sell This Version
TJ 1030 Sam Myers - Down Home In Mississippi album art Sam Myers Down Home In Mississippi(LP, Album) TJ Records (3) TJ 1030 US Unknown Sell This Version
TJ 1040 Sam Myers - Mississippi Delta Blues  album art Sam Myers Mississippi Delta Blues (LP) TJ Records (3) TJ 1040 US Unknown Sell This Version
E-Fi 3383 Sam Myers - Coming From The Old School album art Sam Myers With Special Guest Mel Brown Sam Myers With Special Guest Mel Brown - Coming From The Old School(CD, Album) Electro-Fi Records E-Fi 3383 Unknown Sell This Version

Singles & EPs

Sam Myers - My Love Is Here To Stay / Sleeping In The Ground album art Sammy Myers* With King Mose Royal Rockers Sammy Myers* With King Mose Royal Rockers - My Love Is Here To Stay / Sleeping In The Ground (Single) Ace Records (3) US 1957 Sell This Version
1035 Sam Myers - You Don't Have To Go album art Sam Myers You Don't Have To Go(7") Fury Records (2) 1035 US 1960 Sell This Version
BT-1429, BT-1429-A/B Sam Myers - Make A Little Love Tonight / The Amateur (She's Gone) album art Anson Funderburgh And The Rockets* Featuring Sam Myers Anson Funderburgh And The Rockets* Featuring Sam Myers - Make A Little Love Tonight / The Amateur (She's Gone)(7", Single) Black Top Records, Black Top Records BT-1429, BT-1429-A/B US Unknown Sell This Version

Compilations

5254 Sam Myers - Blues Harmonica Wizards album art Papa Lightfoot & Sammy Myers* Papa Lightfoot & Sammy Myers* - Blues Harmonica Wizards(CD, Comp) Official (3) 5254 Denmark Unknown Sell This Version

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