Monday, January 17, 2022

Sam Moore of Sam and Dave Wanted to Sing Gospel Music, ‘But It Wasn’t Paying the Bills’

*Sam Moore of the blues duo known as Sam and Dave recently dished with Variety about the challenges the group faced coming up in the early-60s.  

Moore and Dave Prater served up a string of hits during their heyday, including “Hold On, I’m Comin’,” “Soul Man” and “I Thank You.” But by the early ’80s, they had called it quits and parted ways. 

Prater died in an auto accident in 1988, and Moore bounced back from numerous setbacks to achieve several career milestones. 

The duo were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and Moore scored a 2006 Grammy nom for his version of the song “You Are So Beautiful.”

During his recent conversation with Variety, the singer opened up about the group getting ripped off and how his first love is gospel music. 

Check out the Q&A below.

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You and Dave Prater put out records before you broke through on Stax. But none of those records ever clicked?

We were signed, and we had a producer who’d worked with Joe Williams, Count Basie and Dinah Washington. We came up with some pretty good stuff. But it became clear that nothing was working, and I finally said, “We’re not going any further with you guys. Could you let us out of our contract?”

Roulette was owned by Morris Levy, who was very famously, shall we say, difficult, or impossible, to negotiate with.

What did I know? I was just a kid from the block. They told us to talk to Morris, so we found out where he lived. He had a beach house in Miami. We knocked on the door, and a maid answered and asked us what we wanted. We said, “We’re here to see Mr. Levy.” Right, two black guys in that neighborhood, and remember, this is back in the early ’60s, and we’re not that close to integration. She says, “Go around the back, and Mr. Levy will see you.” So we go around, and we’re greeted by three guys wearing overcoats in the middle of the summer, and you can see these bulges in their coats right where you’d be carrying a gun. Levy comes out and says, “What do you want?” We said, “We’re Sam and Dave. We’re on your label. We’ve cut some tracks.” “What do you want from me?” “You’re losing money with us, and we can’t find a way to do anything.” Then I started to sit down, and he said, “Did I ask you to sit down?”

You know that other acts had very bad things happen to them after that kind of conversation with Morris Levy.

He took out a box and found some papers, and he signed things and crossed things out. He said, “Let me know if you get any offers. How are you getting back?” We told him we had our car and thanked him and left. When we got back and told our manager, he said, “Morris Levy let you out of your contract? OK, let’s see how far this goes.” 

Essentially, from many different directions, you were being robbed.

And the more confused I got, the more I shot dope and I got more confused. Eventually, I learned that being angry, resentful and hurting wasn’t helping anything. I found a way to move on.

Such a horrible business experience but we still have all those amazing records. Is there anything you might have done differently?

To tell you the truth, I love those records, and when I made them, I knew they were songs

I could sink my teeth into. But my background is gospel. The truth is, I wanted to stay in the gospel field. But it wasn’t paying the bills.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.

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