The world of blues music has lost one of the true greats, Sam Lay, who died Jan. 29 at age 86. He was the greatest blues drummer on the planet, and I’m so glad I got to hear him play in concert a number of times.
Sam played with many blues pioneers, including Little Walter, Howlin Wolf and Muddy Waters. He was named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. I got to hear him play many times with the Siegel-Schwall Band, including several shows at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn, where I got his autograph, and thankfully, got to tell him how much I admired his playing.
Sam invented a “double shuffle” pattern on drums that became known as the “Sam Lay Shuffle.” He played the locomotive-like shuffle on the snare drum with one hand that I, and many other drummers, cannot duplicate with two hands. Watching him play that shuffle was watching a master at work. And hearing him sing “Got My Mojo Working” while shuffling on the drums was breathtaking.
Rest in peace, Sam. And thanks for the inspiration and entertainment.