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Remembering the Mighty Sam McClain: Bill Wasserzieher

Mighty Sam McClain Remembering the Mighty Sam McClain

"I have come to know many musicians over the last 30 years. Some have been happy about their lives, if not their careers. Some vice-versa. Others have been bitter about both. Mighty Sam was grateful for both. He had found much joy in his music and his life. Even his early hand-to-mouth days, when he slept rough on the banks of the Mississippi River, taught him how to appreciate the good things that eventually came his way. As he sang in one of his songs, “I’m living in my dreams, as thankful as a man can be.” And that was “Good Sam.”

Working with him was as easy it gets for a writer. When I did the liner notes for his Grammy-nominated Sweet Dreams album in 2001, he told me to write whatever I wanted to write and he’d be happy with it. “I trust you to treat me right,” he said. When I showed him what I expected—based on previous go-arounds with other headliners—to be the first of many, many drafts, Sam gave it back to me unmarked and said not a word needed “adjustin’.” That never happens unless you are working with a man like Mighty Sam. I miss him.

Listen to any track on Sweet Dreams and you will miss him too. My favorites are the classic title tune, as well as the heartfelt “Living in My Dreams” and “Must Be the Music."

- Bill Wasserzieher

Bill is a contributing editor at Blues Revue.  Read his pieces and interviews at

Have a story, photo or memory of Mighty Sam to share? Send an email to eric(at)

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