Local blues great Sam Myers died this morning. He was 70.

Blues for Sam Myers

We just received the sad news that local blues singer and harp player Sam Myers died this morning, after battling with throat cancer since being diagnosed with it in January 2005. According to his friend, local blues singer Kathy Prather, he had just gotten home from the hospital, and "it really seemed like he was on the mend, and the doctors said he probably had another 15-20 years in him." Indeed, his Web site this morning said the very same thing: He was doing better. Happy to be home. All good stuff. Alas, she notes, "that was not to be."

For those unfamiliar with Myers, a longtime fixture around here with the likes of Anson Funderbergh and the Rockets and all by his lonesome, Myers was born in Laurel, Mississippi, on February 19, 1936, and wound up attending the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago on a scholarship. But the man got more of an education hanging out in Chicago clubs, where, legend always had it, he played with the likes of Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Little Walter and damned near everyone else who defined the sound of the urban blues. He would end up recording with James, playing drums with the guy till at least 1961. He also cut his own single in 1957 for Ace Records: "Sleeping in the Ground"/"My Love Is Here to Stay," the A-side of which was covered by the Eric Clapton-Ginger Baker-Steve Winwood-Rick Grech supergroup Blind Faith for its eponymous 1969 release. Robert Cray also performed the song on his 1980 debut Who's Been Talkin'.

Anson Funderburgh met Myers in 1986, and their partnership continued for 20 years, during which they accrued nine prestigious W.C. Handy Awards, including ones for Band of the Year and Traditional Album of the Year. Myers was nominated just last year for a Handy for his 2005 disc Coming from the Old School. There was a benefit for Myers last August at the Granada Theater; among the performers were his pals Delbert McClinton, Hash Brown, Mike Morgan and The Texas Horns. According to Prather, this morning Myers "began choking and after 30 minutes of working on Sam, the paramedics were not able to resuscitate him. More information will follow regarding a funeral and memorial services. --Robert Wilonsky

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