I heard the news of his death at his home in Memphis this morning, then at noon today, they replayed a 1994 interview with him on NPR’s “Fresh Air”. When they started playing Sam and Dave’s “Soul Man”, which Isaac Hayes wrote, I cranked up the radio in the Camaro to ear-splitting level and sang along, tears streaming down my face.
I lived in Memphis for 25 years. I moved there when I was 17, in 1967, and what a year to be in Memphis. The best blues and the best soul music ever to have graced the planet could be found at any little hole in the wall club.
The first “name” group I ever saw was that same year at a place called Club Paradise, and it was none other than Sam and Dave. My first college boyfriend took me, although he didn’t really want to go. You see, Club Paradise was a black club and was in an unsavory part of town (translation: black). But I insisted, and I guess “Bob” couldn’t act like he was too scared to go if I wasn’t.
I almost had second thoughts when we walked in the door and there was a big cardboard box on a table right up front where people were relinquishing their weapons. The box was already about half full of guns and knives. But I decided that as long as all the guns and knives stayed in the box up front, we should be safe!
My boyfriend and I were the only white people there and the place was packed. Not one person had an unkind word for us; basically everyone pretty much acted like we were invisible. And then the music started and it was just a blowout.
When Sam and Dave started “Hold On, I’m Coming” (no innuendo there, of course), women started throwing their underwear onstage. They laughed and just sang right through it.
So, goodbye to one of the Greats of the music industry, Mr. Soul Man himself.