Samuel Gene Maghett (February 14, 1937 – December 1, 1969),[1] known as Magic Sam, was an American Chicago blues musician. He was born in Grenada County, Mississippi, and learned to play the blues from listening to records by Muddy Waters and Little Walter.[2] After moving to Chicago at the age of 19, he was signed by Cobra Records and became well known as a bluesman after the release of his first record, "All Your Love", in 1957. He was known for his distinctive tremolo guitar playing.[3]

Magic Sam
Photo of Magic Sam.jpg
Background information
Birth nameSamuel Gene Maghett
Born(1937-02-14)February 14, 1937
Grenada County, Mississippi, U.S.
DiedDecember 1, 1969(1969-12-01) (aged 32)
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • Guitar
  • vocals
Years active1957–1969

The stage name Magic Sam was devised by Sam's bass player and childhood friend Mack Thompson at Sam's first recording session for Cobra, as an approximation of "Maghett Sam". The name Sam was using at the time, Good Rocking Sam, was already being used by another artist.[4]

Life and careerEdit

Maghett moved to Chicago in 1956, where his guitar playing earned him bookings at blues clubs on the West Side.[2] He recorded singles for Cobra Records from 1957 to 1959, including "All Your Love" and "Easy Baby". They did not reach the record charts but had a profound influence, far beyond Chicago's guitarists and singers. Together with recordings by Otis Rush and Buddy Guy (also Cobra artists), the Westside Sound was a manifesto for a new kind of blues.[5] Around this time Magic Sam worked briefly with Homesick James Williamson.[5] Magic Sam gained a following before being drafted into the U.S. Army. He served six months in prison for desertion and received a dishonorable discharge.[6]

In 1963, his single "Feelin' Good (We're Gonna Boogie)" gained national attention. He successfully toured the U.S., Britain and Germany. He was signed to Delmark Records in 1967, for which he recorded West Side Soul and Black Magic.[6] He continued performing live and toured with a band that included blues harp player Charlie Musselwhite, future Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen bassist "Buffalo" Bruce Barlow and drummer Sam Lay. Magic Sam's breakthrough performance was at the Ann Arbor Blues Festival in 1969,[7] which won him many bookings in the U.S. and Europe.


His career was cut short when he suddenly died of a heart attack in December 1969.[2] He was 32 years old. Magic Sam was buried in the Restvale Cemetery, in Alsip, Illinois. He was survived by his wife, Georgia Maghett.[8] In February 1970, the Butterfield Blues Band played at a benefit concert for Magic Sam, at Fillmore West in San Francisco. Also on the bill were Mike Bloomfield, Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite and Nick Gravenites.[9]


His guitar style, vocals, and songwriting have inspired and influenced many blues musicians. "Magic Sam had a different guitar sound," said his record producer, Willie Dixon. "Most of the guys were playing the straight 12-bar blues thing, but the harmonies that he carried with the chords was a different thing altogether. This tune "All Your Love", he expressed with such an inspirational feeling with his high voice. You could always tell him, even from his introduction to the music."[5]

Awards and recognitionEdit

Partial singles discographyEdit

Title Label Artist Year Composer
"All Your Love" Cobra 5013A Magic Sam 1957 Sam Maghett
"Love Me with a Feeling" Cobra 5013B Magic Sam 1957 Hudson Whittaker (Tampa Red)
"Magic Rocker" Cobra [NR] Magic Sam Unreleased, recorded 1957 Sam Maghett
"Love Me This Way" Cobra [NR] Magic Sam Unreleased, recorded 1957 Sam Maghett
"Everything Gonna Be Alright" Cobra 5021A Magic Sam 1958 Willie Dixon
"Look Whatcha Done" Cobra 5021B Magic Sam 1958 Sam Maghett
"All Night Long" Cobra 5025A Magic Sam 1958 Willie Dixon
"All My Whole Life" Cobra 5025B Magic Sam 1958 Willie Dixon
"Call Me if You Need Me" Artistic 1502A Shakey Jake Harris (featuring Magic Sam) 1958 Jake Harris
"Roll Your Money Maker" Artistic 1502B Shakey Jake Harris (featuring Magic Sam) 1958 Jake Harris
"Easy Baby" Cobra 5029A Magic Sam 1958 Willie Dixon
"21 Days in Jail" Cobra 5029B Magic Sam 1958 Willie Dixon, L.P. Weaver
"Mr. Charlie" Chief C7013A Magic Sam and the Ammons Sisters 1960 Sam Maghett
"My Love Is Your Love" Chief C7013B Magic Sam and the Ammons Sisters 1960 Sam Maghett
"Square Dance Rock Part 1" Chief C7017A Magic Sam 1960 Sam Maghett, Boyd Atkins
"Square Dance Rock Part 2" Chief C7017B Magic Sam 1960 Sam Maghett, Boyd Atkins
"Every Night About This Time" Chief C7026A Magic Sam 1961 Antoine Domino Jr., Dave Bartholomew
"Do the Camel Walk" Chief C7026B Magic Sam 1961 Sam Maghett, Mel London
"Blue Light Boogie" Chief C7033A Magic Sam 1961 Jessie Mae Robinson
"You Don't Have to Work" Chief C7033B Magic Sam 1961 Sam Maghett
"Out of Bad Luck" The Blues 302A Magic Sam 1966 Sam Maghett, Al Benson
"She Belongs to Me" The Blues 302B Magic Sam 1966 Sam Maghett, Al Benson
"Respect Me Baby" The Blues 303A Shakey Jake Harris (featuring Magic Sam) 1966 Jake Harris
"A Hard Road" The Blues 303B Shakey Jake Harris (featuring Magic Sam) 1966 Jake Harris


Year Title Label Comments
1967 West Side Soul Delmark Recorded in Chicago, 1967
1968 Black Magic Delmark Recorded in Chicago, 1968
1969 Raw Blues Live 1969 Rock Beat Records Recorded in Berkeley, 1969
1980 The Late Great Magic Sam L+R Recorded 1963–64, 1969
1981 Magic Sam Live Delmark Recorded live in Chicago, 1963–64, and Ann Arbor, 1969
1981 Magic Touch Black Magic Recorded live in Chicago, 1966
1989 The Magic Sam Legacy Delmark Outtakes and alternate takes recorded in Chicago, 1966–68
1991 Give Me Time Delmark Solo demo and rehearsal home recordings, 1968
2001 With a Feeling!: The Complete Cobra, Chief & Crash Recordings 1957-1966 Westside Most pre-Delmark recordings; also available as Out of Luck, P-Vine, 2003
2002 Rockin' Wild in Chicago Delmark Recorded live in Chicago, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1968
2013 Live at the Avant Garde Delmark Recorded live at the Avant Garde coffeehouse, Milwaukee, June 22, 1968


  1. ^ Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues: A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara, California: Praeger. p. 231. ISBN 978-0313344237.
  2. ^ a b c Palmer, Robert. Deep Blues. Penguin Books. pp. 267, 269.
  3. ^ Gillett, Charlie (1996). The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll (2nd ed.). New York City: Da Capo Press. pp. 177–179. ISBN 0-306-80683-5.
  4. ^ Rowe, M. (1981). Chicago Blues: The City and the Music. New York City: Da Capo Press. pp. 178–179. ISBN 978-0306801457.
  5. ^ a b c Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. pp. 143–144. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
  6. ^ a b Larkin, Colin (2011). "Magic Sam". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0857125958.
  7. ^ Johnson, Greg (September 2000). "Magic Sam". Archived from the original on February 3, 2007. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  8. ^ Mike, Rowe (1979). Chicago Breakdown. Da Capo Press. p. 203. ISBN 978-0306795329.
  9. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'n' Roll Years. London: Reed International Books. p. 209. CN 5585.
  10. ^ "1982 Blues Music Awards". Blues Foundation. Retrieved September 26, 2011.
  11. ^ a b c "1982, 1984, 1990 Blues Hall of Fame Inductees". Blues Foundation. Archived from the original on May 18, 2010. Retrieved September 26, 2010.