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Sam Myers 7/2006

July 17, 2006 – Sam Myers was born on February 19, 1936 in Laurel, Mississippi. He acquired juvenile cataracts at age seven and was left legally blind for the rest of his life despite corrective surgery. He could make out shapes and shadows, but could not read print at all; he was taught Braille. Myers acquired an interest in music while a schoolboy in Jackson, Mississippi and became skilled enough at playing the trumpet and drums that he received a non-degree scholarship from the American Conservatory of Music (formerly named the American Conservatory School of Music) in Chicago.

Myers attended school by day and at night frequented the nightclubs of the South Side, Chicago. There he met and was sitting in with Jimmy Rogers, Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Little Walter, Hound Dog Taylor, Robert Lockwood, Jr., and Elmore James.

Myers played drums with Elmore James on a fairly steady basis from 1952 until James’s death in 1963, and is credited on many of James’s historic recordings for Chess Records. In 1956, Myers wrote and recorded what was to be his most famous single, “Sleeping In The Ground”, a song that has been covered by Blind Faith, Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, and many other blues artists, as well as being featured on Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour show on ‘Sleep’.

From the early 1960s until 1986, Myers worked the clubs in and around Jackson, as well as across the South in the racially segregated string of venues dubbed the Chitlin’ Circuit. He also toured the world with Sylvia Embry and the Mississippi All-Stars Blues Band.

In 1986, Myers met Anson Funderburgh, a guitarslinger from Plano, Texas, and joined his band, The Rockets. Myers toured all over the U.S. and the world with The Rockets, enjoying a partnership that endured until the time of his death. Their first collaboration for New Orleans-based Black Top Records, 1985’s My Love Is Here to Stay, was followed by several more albums — Sins, Rack ‘Em Up, Tell Me What I Want to Hear, 1995’s Live at the Grand Emporium — each one confirming that this was one of the most enduring blues partnerships of the 1990s.

Just before Myers died from throat cancer on July 17, 2006, he toured as a solo artist, in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, with the Swedish band, Bloosblasters.  He was 69.

• Myers and The Rockets collectively won nine W. C. Handy Awards, including three “Band of the Year” awards and the 2004 award for Best Traditional Album of the Year. In 2005, Myers’ record, Coming From The Old School, was nominated for Traditional Blues Album of the Year.

• In January 2000, Myers was inducted into the Farish Street Walk of Fame in Jackson, Mississippi, an honor he shares with Dorothy Moore and Sonny Boy Williamson II.

• In 2006, just months before Myers died, the Governor of Mississippi presented Myers with the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and was named state Blues Ambassador by the Mississippi Arts Commission.

• Also in 2006, the University Press of Mississippi published Myers’ autobiography titled Sam Myers: The Blues is My Story. Writer Jeff Horton, whose work has appeared in Blues Revue and Southwest Blues, chronicled Myers’ history and delved into his memories of life on the road.

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