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Magic Sam

Samuel Maghett was born on Valentines Day 1937 on a farm in central Mississippi, where he learned to play the guitar by stretching strings tied to nails driven into a wall. His family moved to Chicago in 1950, where Sam got his first guitar.

As a teenager he began appearing in the city’s blues clubs, first sitting in with Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, later forming his own band.

He began singing at the insistence of another Chicago blues friend, Shakey Jake. He had a soft, smoky voice and an almost offhand delivery as a vocalist. His guitar work was more sinewy, insinuating, more jazz-like, less pyrotechnic than most of his blues contemporaries.

Like Wes Montgomery, Sam never used a pick, and this added to his individual sound.

Sam began recording at the age of 20 and recorded singles for many little-known labels like Cobra, Chief, Crash and Delmark.

Magic Sam died of a heart attack in December 1969 at his Chicago home. He was just 32.

At the time of his death, he had been talking with bassist-producer Duck Dunn about recording for Stax in Memphis.