Magic Sam (born Samuel Maghett) came to Chicago’s west side from Mississippi in 1956 as a teenager, and a year later recorded All Your Love for the Cobra label, one of the immortal classics of post-war blues. In a matter of a few years he, with his high-pitched keening vocals and shimmering guitar solos, ushered in a new era of urban blues guitar, along with like-mind- ed young guitar stylists Otis Rush and Buddy Guy.


He recorded two sensational albums for Delmark, West Side Soul in 1967 and Black Magic in 1969, followed by Magic Sam Live, which captured his head-turning appearance at the Ann Arbor Blues Fest in 1969. And just as his career was poised to explode, he died of a heart attack at 32.

Jimmy Johnson played guitar with his neighbor and friend Magic Sam as early as 1959. Johnson’s brother, Mac Thompson, was Sam’s regular bass player. Magic Sam’s influence on Dave Specter is readily evident in his crisp, ascending guitar lines. Specter and John- son have recorded together and dueted many times, often performing the music of Magic Sam, which makes these guitarists excellent choices to pay tribute to Magic Sam.

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