Ironing Board Sam & Jimi Hendrix: the Nashville Connection
inTheir Adventureson May 10, 2017
Last month I received an unusual phone call from a mysterious woman. There was a lot of commotion in the background as she asked if I knew where Ironing Board Sam was and how she could get in contact with him. Believe it or not, this is not the first random/frantic call I had from someone trying to get in touch with Sam – calls like this just comes with the territory. I barely could follow the woman but what I gathered was she had a friend that was trying to contact Sam and she was calling on his behalf. I told her it was company policy that I can’t give out any numbers of the artists we work with, she said ok and hung up. I thought nothing of it…
Some days later the phone rang again and it was the gentleman that was looking for Sam. The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he was looking to get in touch with Ironing Board Sam. I again explained our policy. He said he understood and we starting talking about Sam’s career and amazing talent as a performer. Eventually the man asked me whether or not it was true that Sam had played with Jimi Hendrix back in the late 60s in Nashville and I told him indeed it was true.
At this point I knew that something amazing was going to be revealed to me, well, because Sam is amazing. I experienced a similar moment two years ago when the photographer Walter Lenk called, randomly, and told me that he had the lost photos of Ironing Board Sam performing his underwater blues show at the first few New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festivals.
The man told me that he had a guitar and that it was signed. The signature read:
The man told me that the signature had been authenticated by several experts and this was indeed Jimi Hendrix’s signature. I told him that I would contact Sam immediately to see what he could remember. I called Sam and asked him if Jimi had ever given him a guitar and Sam said, “yes, Jimi gave me a guitar and I practiced and practiced, I got some honky tonk licks down but I’m a keyboard player! I had no use for a guitar – so I gave it away”.
The Man sent some photos of the guitar down to Sam and Sam said, “that was it, that was the guitar that Jimi gave me”! Sam said he learned to play a couple honky tonk tunes on it but knew he was a keyboard player so he gave the guitar away.
Although he never “made it”, Ironing Board Sam’s influence on popular music is irrefutable. During his time in Nashville Sam was experimenting with psychedelic keyboard sounds that were long before their time. Jimi Hendrix and Sam shared the stage regularly at Club Del Morocco in Nashville, TN regularly during the early 60s.
— Corn Lewis