Sam Lay Biography

20 March 1935, Birmingham, Alabama, USA. The drummer Fred Below put the backbeat into the blues and elevated the records of Muddy Waters and Little Walter, among a host of others, into defining statements. Close behind him is Sam Lay, the inventor of the ‘double shuffle’. Lay began playing drums at 14 and joined his first band, the Moon Dog Combo, in 1956. The following year he joined the Thunderbirds, before spending 1959 in Little Walter’s band. He then became the backbone of Howlin’ Wolf’s band, where he stayed from 1960 to 1966. He was the driving force behind ‘Down In The Bottom’, ‘The Red Rooster’, ‘Goin’ Down Slow’, ‘Built For Comfort’ and ‘Killing Floor’. He then joined the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, played on the group’s first two influential albums and also backed Bob Dylan on his controversial electric debut at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. In the ensuing years, he worked with most of the best-known names in the blues world, having a particular regard for his work on Muddy Waters’ Fathers And Sons album. Lay leads his own band, which features former Commander Cody harmonica player Billy C. Farlow and guitarist Chris James, as well as freelancing when the opportunity arises. Shuffle Master combines original material with a number of cover versions, while Live, recorded at Nashville’s Boardwalk Cafe, relies upon more traditional material.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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