Samuel Moore and David Prater were both from the South, had both spent time as gospel singers, and joined forces as a vocal duo in 1961 after meeting at an amateur show in Miami.
Their material for Stax was written and produced by the team of Isaac Hayes and David Porter, and their You Don’t Know Like I Know and Hold On I’m Comin’ remain among the most dynamic recorded performances of the mid-60s.
The differing texture of their voices was used to project mounting impatience and excitement, with thundering noisy climaxes.
Sam and Dave’s live performances were exhaustive displays of showmanship – so dynamic that Otis Redding (a Stax labelmate) refused to have them open for him after they upstaged him on a 1967 tour.
The duo also had more than its share of personal difficulties. In 1968, Prater shot his wife during an argument, and both he and Moore had drug problems.
Although estranged in 1970 – but reunited in 1973 – the duo continued to produce small wonders like Soul Sister Brown Sugar after the soul boom had largely collapsed into routine sterility.
They finally split up in 1981, though Prater revived Sam and Dave as a touring act with another singer, Sam Daniels (who Moore referred to as “the fake Sam”)
Prater was arrested in 1987 in Paterson, New Jersey (where he had lived since 1974) for selling crack cocaine to an undercover police officer. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years’ probation.
Dave Prater was killed in a motor accident near Sycamore, Georgia, on his 51st birthday on 9 April 1988.