Sam Frazier, Jr. can play the harp like Sonny Boy Williamson or sing a country tune like Charley Pride, a versatile and rare bluesman from Birmingham, AL.
How We Helped:
In March, 2015 Sam Frazier, Jr. came to the Music Maker offices to meet the staff and get acquainted with what we do. We took photographs and cut a portion of his new record that week. Sam later told us that he was having an issue paying his property taxes so Music Maker gave him emergency relief to keep his home. Music Maker has already booked several gigs for Sam and he is thrilled to be playing again.
Sam Frazier, Jr. was born in a mining town of Edgewater, Alabama, a small mining community near Birmingham. To help earn money for a growing family, Sam’s mother would hold big back yard barbecues on Friday night…which most times lasted until early Saturday morning. Although it was illegal, she operated a “shot house”, selling liquor from the home. As a result of the large crowds that the barbecue and liquor sales drew, entertainers started coming by and playing for the crowd for donations, free barbecue and liquor. Sonny Boy Williamson was a regular and Jimmy Reed also came by. Sam was fascinated with the harmonica and it was Williamson who gave Sam his first harmonica and gave him a lesson in blues harmonica technique.
Sam Frazier, Jr. started playing as a one man band, playing guitar and blowing the harmonica. He added a bass drum and hi-hat which he played with his feet. He taught his sister to play bass and she started performing with Sam at parties and local clubs. While playing at a club, he caught the ear of a popular local Birmingham DJ, “The Thin Man”, Maurice King. Maurice arranged an audition with a talent agent who took Sam and his sister to New York City and recorded his first record entitled “You Got Me Uptight”. The session took place at a studio on Broadway. The 45 rpm single was released and received moderate airplay and success. While in New York City, Sam and his sister performed at the Sonia Ballroom.
Eventually Sam came back to Birmingham and joined a gospel group, “The Golden Hummingbirds”, where he played bass and sang. He also formed a three piece combo and played at the DAV (Disabled Veterans) and American Legion for a period of time. Although the music was a lot of fun, Sam needed a job to support himself with a regular income. He got a job at a local auto dealership where one of the salesmen introduced Sam to a local morning TV show host, Country Boy Eddie. Eddie was a well known celebrity entertainer who eventually hired Sam as one of the regular members of his traveling entourage; making appearances at local shopping malls, new car dealership grand openings and other venues. It was around that same time that country music had just discovered Charley Pride, the first black singer to make it big in country music. Eddie encouraged Sam to pursue country music in addition to the blues music he was known for. Sam also became a regular on The Country Boy Eddie TV Show on WBRC TV, a Birmingham, AL station. Some of the members of the band entered Sam in a contest at “Sonny Duke’s Night Club”. Sam not only won the contest, but went on to perform at Sonny Duke’s as a regular for five years. Then Sam met Joe Mitchell. Joe owned Missile Records and recorded 12 songs with Sam in Nashville. One of the songs, “Cabbage Man”, was released as a single and received a good amount of airplay.