Making a Scene Presents an Interview with Sandra Taylor and LAW of A Band Called Sam!
The DNA of Blues icon Sam “Bluzman” Taylor resides in every note of this inspired recording. His disciples, A Band Called Sam – equipped with love, passion and virtuosity – execute Taylor’s compositions with an infectious joy and reverence. The listener is ushered to a special place where Sam’s spirit comforts and inspires. Listen to this album and you’ll walk side-by-side with a man whose unconditional love of the Blues forged a legacy that knows no bounds.
“I got the Legacy CD and gave it a spin. Then I gave it another spin. One of my favorite releases this year. Sam’s spirit is all over it. He must’ve been in the studio somehow.” DJ Marty Kool, KXCI 91.3FM Tucson, Az Focus Tracks
Comprising Taylor’s bandmates at the time of his passing in 2009,
A Band Called Sam includes Sam’s daughter Sandra Taylor, an accomplished singer in her own right. Sandra sings with, ’60s recording group The Toys, and ’50s group The Cookies.
Sam’s grandson Lawrence “LAW” Worrell, singer and guitarist, has traveled the world with his father (with Parliament Funkadelic), and Amy Winehouse. Worrell’s own ensemble is Planet12.
Mario Staino, drummer, plays on the Long Island scene and across the globe with Savoy Brown and Kerry Kearney.
Gary Grob, bassist, played and traveled the world with Sam.
Gary Sellars, Sam’s protégé, plays guitar and sings with his own band across Long Island and New York City.
Danny Kean, keyboardist and vocalist, has played with Stevie Cochran and other great performers.
About Sam “Bluzman” Taylor
Born Samuel Willis Taylor Jr. in Crichton, a suburb of Mobile, Alabama, Taylor began singing gospel at the age of three. His Long Island connection began in 1957, during his service in the United States Air Force. He was stationed at the Westhampton Beach Air Force Base, which was a short distance from the Blue Bird Inn.
After leaving the service in 1959, Taylor lived in Riverhead. His first major professional gig was as Maxine Brown‘s bandleader at the Apollo Theater and his first #1 R&B hit single was “Funny”. Taylor himself, often going using his fuller name of Sammy Taylor, recorded for various labels including Capitol, Enjoy, and Atlantic Records.
The songwriter of hundreds of songs, many of them hits such as “Peace Pipe”, performed by the B.T. Express, Taylor’s efforts were recorded by Freddie King, Chubby Checker, Son Seals, Jimmy Witherspoon, Brook Benton, Jay and the Americans, Joey Dee, Maxine Brown, and Joe Tex. Taylor also was the bandleader and/or guitarist for Big Joe Turner, The Isley Brothers, Tracy Nelson, Otis Redding, and Sam & Dave.
Taylor and his songwriting partner, Bennie Earl, mentored young Florida duo Sam & Dave, wrote two of their early hits “People in Love” and “Listening For My Name”, when the duo recorded for Roulette Records, predating their later success with Stax/Volt. Taylor was also an original member and guitarist/songwriter for Joey Dee and the Starliters. With fellow Starliter Dave Brigatti, Taylor had a strong influence on The Rascals, which included Brigati’s younger brother Eddie. He also wrote some of the first songs for The Vagrants which included Leslie West who would later go on to form Mountain. After recording and appearing in two films with the Starliters including Two Tickets to Paris, Taylor took his friend Jimi Hendrix with him to tell Joey Dee and Morris Levy to let the young upstart take his place in the group.
At the start of the 1970s, Taylor and Earl were hired as staff songwriters for The Beach Boys record label, Brother Records, until Brian Wilson burned the studio with Taylor and Earl’s demos for the group going up in flames. At that time, Taylor released his first solo album Tunnels Of My Mind on the GRT label. He was later hired by Roadshow Records as an A&R/songwriter for the acts they were signing. He was told by the record producer Jeff Lane that, in exchange for helping them build up the company, he would be granted a solo deal for three albums. One of these acts was King David House Rockers who became B.T. Express. Taylor played rhythm guitar on all tracks of the group’s first five albums, with the first three being million sellers, “Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied)”, “Non-Stop”, and “Energy to Burn”. He also played the organ on the group’s million seller, “Do It Your Satisfied”. Taylor’s song “Peace Pipe” became one of the group’s biggest hits. Taylor also produced and wrote songs for Norma Jenkins debut album, Patience is a Virtue that became obscure soul classics such as “Reachin Out In The Darkness”.
By the late 1970s, he moved to Santa Monica, California, where at Venice Beach he & his weekly night show with his band A Band Called Sam attracted fellow artists such as Rickie Lee Jones, Gregory Hines, and Tom Waits, but drug addiction & medical problems threatened to dull his musical edge. In 1986 Taylor was featured alongside actress Galyn Görg in the Indie cult film ‘Living The Blues‘. The film highlighted the challenges of inner city youth in pursuit of their dreams, while showcasing Taylor’s talent; it received a FilmTrax award for original music at the Ghent International Film Festival.
Taylor then moved to Tucson, Arizona to get clean and became a prime figure in Arizona’s heavy music scene, where he hosted his own television program, Down To Earth and a popular radio show called “The Blues According To Sam” On KXCI. It was also in Arizona that Taylor began a modest acting career appearing movies and television with Lou Gossett Jr, Mario Van Peebles, and Barbara Eden. He also appeared in the music film, Tapeheads. Sam also saw two of his compositions used in the film. Sam would also reboot his artist album career by releasing 3 albums that he recorded in Arizona: “Signature”, “Voice Of The Blues”, & “Bluzman”
Taylor’s music has been heavily sampled by rap artists. The sole composition he wrote for B.T. Express which was “Everything That’s Good To Ya (Aint Always Good For Ya)” became an extremely popular Hip Hop sample used by EPMD, Beanie Sigel, Mase, Jay-Z, Lil’ Kim, and DMX’s first #1 Platinum hit “Get at Me Dog”. Though the original B.T. Express song was never released as a single, it became the most sampled song in B.T. Express entire catalog showing just how much of an influence he was & how vital his guitar sound was to the band. His prominent vicious rhythm guitar licks from those B.T. Express songs can be heard sampled in SWV “Use Your Heart” and EPMD “So Wat Cha Sayin”
Upon his son Bobby’s death, Taylor returned to New York. He was a resident of Central Islip until his own demise. There Taylor released five albums including Blue Tears, Keep The Blues Alive”, “I Came From The Dirt”, Bluzman Back Home, and Portrait: The Funky Side Of Sam, which featured the song “Freaks” (a duet with his grandson L*A*W). Taylor also hosted WUSB (FM)’s ‘Blues With A Feeling’ radio show. Along with Joan Jett, Billy Joel, Vanilla Fudge, KISS, Mountain, Shadow Morton, Run–D.M.C., and Twisted Sister, Taylor was inducted by L*A*W into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006, and the Arizona Blues Hall Of Fame in 1997. Just before his death, he released his autobiography, Caught in the Jaws of the Blues. In 2013, L*A*W says he plans on releasing the audiobook version of Sam’s book as well as hundreds of unreleased material, live recordings, and demos in 2014.
Taylor died on January 5, 2009, at his home in Islandia, New York, of complications associated with heart disease. He was aged 74.