Sam “the Dot Man” McMillan Passes Away

inNewson August 30, 2018

Sam McMillan & Captain Luke | Photo by Aaron Greenhood

Last week we said goodbye to folk artist and longtime Music Maker supporter and friend, Sam “the Dot Man” McMillan. When I met Sam McMillan with Guitar Gabriel in Winston-Salem in the early 90s and we were en route to play Carnegie Hall and he offered to paint us suits. In his unique and whimsical fashion, Sam painted for our trio: three full suits, hats, ties, suspenders. Our show at Carnegie Hall was a huge success and Sam’s suits were a hit. At this point, Sam was just starting his folk art business and through that show Sam got connected with two art dealers that were able to sell his work.

Sam was always a great supporter and lover of Music Maker and incorporated Guitar Gabriel, Willa Mae Buckner, Mr. Q, Preston Fulp and Macavine Hayes into his iconography, especially Guitar Gabe with his fuzzy hat, he made thousands of those. Sam’s work would often reflect his compassion and love for peace, a characteristic that was true to Sam himself. Sam would always allow me to purchase art and for years we were able to raise money by selling it at fundraisers.

When Guitar Gabriel passed away I was clearing out his apartment and he had an ornate throne that I gave to Sam. Sam painted that throne and gave it to me and it has since been featured in hundreds, if not thousands of photographs. The throne along with a variety of other works has traveled to museums throughout the country accompanying our photography exhibitions. Music Maker is forever grateful to Sam McMillan for his generosity and creative spirit.

— Tim Duffy



  • Susan Shaw

    Thanks for this Sam McMillan recollection. It’s so good to know his artistry was recognized. The throne is fantastic “Joy”.

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