Ironing Board Sam
Ironing Board Sam was born Sammie Moore in 1939 in Rockhill, South Carolina. He spent a year and a half in college but had to drop out after he got married. Sam learned to play on his father’s pump organ and joined several groups around the area as a teenager. His initial professional job was with Robert “Nature Boy” Montgomery, a blues singer and harmonica player who worked out of Miami.Share
Sam’s confidence grew to the point where he formed his own group and worked small clubs around South Florida. In 1959, he moved to Memphis, where he picked up his colorful “nom de disque.” Sam didn’t have the regular legs to support his electric keyboard, so he improvised and used an ironing board stand, which he hid with a drape.
Club patrons began looking behind the drape and teasing Sam about the ironing board. He didn’t like it at first, but he was tagged Ironing Board Sam, and the name stuck.
Sam’s journeys eventually took him to New Orleans, where he got a regular gig at Mason’s V.I.P. Lounge on South Claiborne Avenue, then the top black night spot in town. Sam auditioned in 1991 for Orleans Records. The session was cut in less than 90 minutes, with Sam’s vocals supported only by a vintage Wurlitzer piano. The audition tape has been issued as The Human Touch. Despite the sparse instrumentation and short recording time, Sam is extremely pleased with the results.
“Most of my other records I didn’t like,” says Sam. “The producers I worked with had never seen me play in clubs. They tried to change my style. When we cut The Human Touch, I was definitely in a groove. I played whatever I wanted, just like when I play in a club.”
“I prefer doing my own material because I can feel it better. But recording is like playing a gig: You’ve got to play some things that are familiar in order to attract an audience. Then you can slip in your own songs and get people into who you are. That’s always been my formula.”
“The Human Touch” (1991)
“Sam Moore sure has a knack for showmanship. Hence, his performance underwater in a giant “aquarium,” a 1,500 gallon glass tank, at the 1979 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. One could easily lose sight of the fact that Sam is also a damn fine bluesman with a knack for writing strong originals and a booming deep voice. Add that to his mastery of the keyboards, and it’s clearly evident that this man deserves a CD long before now. This album is a fine introduction to the talents of a unique performer with a still bright future ahead of him.”
West Coast Blues Review