Sam and Dave: An Oral History

Sam and Dave: An Oral History

by Dave Marsh



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Sam and Dave: An Oral History by Dave Marsh

The guitar line rises like a Roman candle, it bursts into a joyfully sassy horn riff, and all of a sudden you just cant sit still anymore—because youre a soul man. When Sam Moore and Dave Prater brought the call-and-response sounds of the black church onto the charts in the mid-sixties, they set soul music on fire and energized an entire generation. Teamed with legendary Stax songwriters Isaac Hayes and David Porter, Sam and Dave scored a string of enduring hits that ignored radio format boundaries: Soul Man, Hold On, Im Comin, I Thank You, You Dont Know Like I Know, and more.

Sam Moore and For the Record series editor Dave Marsh lead you deep into the world of soul and show you the real-life roots of an unforgettable musical act. Bracingly candid, intensely personal, these are a lifetimes worth of memories from a real survivor who has experienced both pleasure and pain in his groundbreaking career. From the choir to the studio, from the juke joint to the concert stage, here is your closest look ever at the Sam and Dave phenomenon, and what it cost to be part of it. In Sams own words, this is how you become a soul man—and how you stay that way.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780380793754
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/28/1998
Series: For the Record Series
Pages: 128
Product dimensions: 5.28(w) x 8.03(h) x 0.34(d)

About the Author

Dave Marsh was a founding editor of Creem and an editor at Rolling Stone, where he created The Rolling Stone Record Guide. He is a music critic at Playboy, publisher of Rock & Rap Confidential, and a prolific author of books about music and pop culture. His Before I Get Old is the definitive biography of The Who, and Glory Days and Born to Run, both about Bruce Springsteen, were bestsellers. He lives in New York and Connecticut.

Read an Excerpt



There is one great story we left out of this book. It was the last story and, in another way, it was the first.

In December 1996 I flew to Miami to join Sam and Joyce Moore for a weekend. Sam was going to be singing at a NARAS (the Grammy people) tribute to his friend Tom Dowd, the great Atlantic Records engineer and one of the unspoken heroes of early rock and roll and R&B and soul music.

Since Miami is Sam's hometown, it seemed like a good place to start doing interviews. There was also something appropriate about beginning after an evening where Sam sang in front of an audience that included much Atlantic brass, including the company's founder, Ahmet Ertegun.

On a stage set-up on the multi-acre lawn of Julio Iglesias's oceanfront estate, Sam sang a few Sam and Dave hits, quite ably, and retired from the stage in bemusement after David Lee Roth, of all people, decided to essay his own strange version of "Soul Man." (Sam may not love that song, but he's the only goddamn person who lived through the '60s who doesn't wish he'd recorded it.) Backstage, Sam ran into his old nemesis, Henry Stone.

"Sam, Sam!" Stone rasped. "Where's my money?" Sam looked sour and turned away.

When he told me about it later, I said, "You should have said 'Where's my money? In your pocket!"' (Stone received a one percent royalty on all Sam and Dave records which came out of the artists share of the proceeds, although it was many years before the artists were informed of this.) Sam and Joyce both cracked up.

I have otherwise done my best to avoid putting words in his mouth What follows are my own thoughts, entirely.

Sam Moore is the greatest living soul singer. He certainly does think so (from time to time here, he expresses doubt that he is very good at all), but I do. Sam has maintained more of his always remark able voice, more sense of gospel phrasing, more grit and attitude than any other contemporary claimant. And I believe-no, having bee through the process of creating this book, I know that he has retainer those qualities because he's held onto something far more precious his sense of personal integrity.

This book was born of that integrity. When first given the opportunity to edit the For the Record series, I immediately knew that Sam and Dave was one of the stories we had to tell. They were the most sophisticated expression that Southern soul ever achieved, a thrilling live act who made great records. Sam and I are old friends, and for me, the chance to spend some time with him, discovering the details of his life and career, was guaranteed to be a privilege and promised to be pleasure.

Well, sort of. In fact, it was a harrowing emotional experience for both of us-and for Sam's truest partner of all, Joyce Moore. Sam was as he always is, alternately funny, insightful, enchanting, the casual epitome of cool, and the most intense subject an interviewer could ever hope to find. But as I put him through his paces, with Joyce serving as a kind of Greek chorus to remind both of us where the pathway lay, the story assumed dark dimensions I could not have imagined. I Sam's great credit, he never flinched as he revealed himself.

One of the reasons he can do this with such confidence, after yes of conning the world, including himself, is his relationship with Joyce. Joyce and I have been friends since the late seventies. I was the find Rolling Stone reporter to cover Jackie Wilson's heart attack and his hospitalization after his onstage heart attack. In large measure, this story centered on Joyce, and on her heroic attempt to save Jackie Wilson from medical indifference-given what we now know about the potential for rehabilitating people who have been stricken with catastrophic illnesses, she was certainly correct in judging Jackie's situation.

Fighting such battles is not at all alien to Joyce and Sam; the willingness to take on anybody, if the cause is right, is, I now understand, a cornerstone of their relationship. Sam took the lead among rhythm and blues artists fighting for royalty reform, and when the Rhythm & Blues Foundation was created, Joyce took a seat on the board (as I also did). Today, Sam is the lead plaintiff in the massive RICO/ERISA class-action suit filed by leading soul and rock performers against the major recording companies over the issue of mishandled pension monies.

Joyce has also ably steered Sam's career over the past few years. Sam is, despite this text, not often very verbal in his dealings with the world, at least not these days, and Joyce serves as a combination translator/diplomat and occasionally even as arranger or producer as well as his manager.

So it is inevitable that Joyce is the other speaker even in what other wise amounts to Sam Moore's autobiographical monologue.

I have removed myself from this text more than from any other book I've ever worked on. Mainly, that's because Sam's voice is so clear and powerful; he's a wonderful storyteller and an excellent analyst. For instance, Sam has a very clear understanding of the relationship between soul and gospel, and soul as show biz, too, so there wasn't much critical commentary could contribute. In my opinion, this is a direct result of his personal integrity.

I don't know whether this is a paradigmatic story of a soul man's rise and fall and persistence, as I had planned. It's probably too singular for that. But it is beyond any question the story of a soulful man who rose and fell and persisted. If I had one hope for it, it would be that it marks the beginning of the final entirely glorious phase of Sam Moore's career. Not because it might sell us some books, but because for his talent and his integrity, Sam deserves it.

I love ya, buddy.
Dave Marsh
July 1997

Copyright ) 1998 by Sam Moore and Dave Marsh

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