Sam Lay (born March 20, 1935, Birmingham, Alabama) is an American drummer and vocalist who has been performing since the late 1950s. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.
Life and career
In the early 1960s, Lay began recording and performing with prominent blues musicians, including Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf, Eddie Taylor, John Lee Hooker, Junior Wells, Bo Diddley, Magic Sam, Jimmy Rogers, Earl Hooker, and Muddy Waters. The recordings Lay made during this time, along with Waters’s album Fathers and Sons, recorded in 1969, are considered to be among the definitive works of Waters and Wolf.
In the mid-1960s, Lay joined the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and recorded and toured extensively with them. Bob Dylan used Lay as his drummer when he introduced electric rock at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. Lay also recorded on Dylan’s track “Highway 61 Revisited“, and may have provided the siren whistle Dylan famously uses on the track.
In the late 1980s Lay was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, in Memphis. He has also been inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame, in Los Angeles, and the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, in Cleveland. He was nominated eight times for the coveted W. C. Handy Award for Best Instrumentalist, including a nomination in 2005.
Lay made two albums with his own band, released by Appaloosa Records and Evidence Records, and two recordings for Alligator Records with the Siegel-Schwall Band. His own album, Sam Lay in Bluesland, released in 1969 by Blue Thumb Records, was produced by Nick Gravenites.
He was nominated in 2000 for a Grammy Award for his performances on the CD Howlin’ Wolf Tribute. He was honored by the Recording Academy in January 2002 with a Legends and Heroes Award for his significant musical contributions. He was prominently featured in the PBS television documentary History of the Blues, broadcast in seven episodes, produced by the Academy Award–winning director Martin Scorsese. Lay shot many home movies of fellow blues performers in small Chicago venues in the late 1950s and 1960s, parts of which were included in History of the Blues and the WTTW television production Record Row, by the filmmaker Michael MacAlpin.
- Sam Lay in Bluesland (Blue Thumb Records, 1969 [BTS 14])
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (November 2018)
With Paul Butterfield
With Carey Bell
- Heartaches and Pain (Delmark, 1977 )
With Bob Dylan
- Highway 61 Revisited (Columbia, 1965)
- The Bootleg Series Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge 1965–1966 (Columbia )
With Lightnin’ Hopkins
- Live at Newport (Vanguard, 1965 )
With Howlin’ Wolf
With Magic Sam
- Magic Sam Live (Delmark, 1969 )
With Muddy Waters
- Fathers and Sons (Chess, 1969)
With the Siegel–Schwall Band
- Erlewine, Michael. Sam Lay biography at AllMusic
- Sam Lay biography Archived 2011-03-10 at the Wayback Machine at All About Jazz
- Sam Lay biography Archived 2011-02-28 at the Wayback Machine at chamberblues.com, official website of the Siegel-Schwall Band
- Sam Lay biography Archived 2011-05-14 at the Wayback Machine at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame web site
- Colin Larkin, ed. (1995). The Guinness Who’s Who of Blues (Second ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 230. ISBN 0-85112-673-1.
- Glover, Tony (1998). The Bootleg Series Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966, The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert (booklet). Bob Dylan. Columbia Records.
- “Sam Lay – Sam Lay In Bluesland (1969, Vinyl)”. Discogs.com. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
- Sam Lay Blues Collection Archived 2011-07-20 at the Wayback Machine at Historic Films
- Bob L. Eagle; Eric S. LeBlanc (May 2013). Blues: A Regional Experience. ABC-CLIO. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-313-34424-4.
- “Sam Lay In Bluesland”. Samlayinbluesland.com. Retrieved 2017-03-16.
- “The Paul Butterfield Blues Band Biography | The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum”. Rockhall.com. 2013-04-15. Retrieved 2016-05-23.
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