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Samuel "Magic Sam" Gene Maghett (February 14, 1937 – December 1, 1969) was an American blues musician. Maghett was born in Grenada and learned to play the blues from listening to records by Muddy Waters and Little Walter. After moving to Chicago at the age of nineteen, he was signed by Cobra Records and became well known as a bluesman after his first record, "All Your Love" in 1957. He had several more hits and became very popular. He was known for his distinctive tremolo guitar playing.
Life and career
After moving to Chicago, Illinois in 1950, his guitar playing earned bookings at blues clubs in Chicago's West Side. He met his old childhood friend Magic Slim there in 1955, and gave him his nickname. Sam recorded for the Cobra label from 1957 to 1959, recording singles, including "All Your Love" and "Easy Baby." They never appeared on the charts yet they had a profoud influence, far beyond Chicago's guitarists and singers. Together with the records of Otis Rush (also a Cobra artist) and Buddy Guy, they made a manifesto for a new kind of blues. Around this time Sam also worked briefly with Homesick James Williamson. Sam gained a following before being drafted into the Army. Not a natural soldier, Sam deserted after a couple of weeks' service and was subsequently caught and sentenced to six months imprisonment. He was given a dishonourable discharge on release, but the experience had undermined his confidence and immediate recordings for Mel London's Chief Records lacked the purpose of their predecessors.
In 1963, he gained national attention for his single "Feelin' Good (We're Gonna Boogie)". After successful touring of the United States, UK and Germany, he was signed to Delmark Records in 1967, where he recorded West Side Soul and Black Magic. He also continued performing live and toured with blues harp player Charlie Musselwhite.
Sam's breakthrough performance was at the Ann Arbor Blues Festival in 1969, which won him many bookings in the United States and Europe. His life and career was cut short when he suddenly died of a heart attack in December of the same year. He was 32 years old. He was buried in the Restvale Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois.
His guitar style, vocals and songwriting ability have inspired and influenced many blues musicians ever since. In The Blues Brothers, Jake Blues dedicates the band's performance of "Sweet Home Chicago" to the "late, great Magic Sam".
In 1982, Sam was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.