Sam Lay

Sam Lay “ drums

If one had to choose a prominent drummer in the blues genre, whose style and approach to the music would define the beat of the Chicago Blues, it would be Sam Lay. While many blues players today have changed their styles to appeal to more listeners, Sam Lay remains true to the old school. The most visible drummer to ever come out of the Chicago scene, Lay’s famous shuffles and grooves are still the envy of any would-be blues drummer.

Sam Lay was born in Birmingham, Alabama on March 20, 1935. Lay began playing drums at 14 and joined his first band, the Moon Dog Combo, in 1956. The following year he joined the Thunderbirds, before spending 1959 in Little Walter’s band. He then became the backbone of Howlin’ Wolf’s band, where he played from 1960-1966. He joined the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, played on the groups first two influential albums, “Paul Butterfield Blues Band,” and “East-West,” he also backed Bob Dylan on his controversial electric debut at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. He was the drummer on Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited.”

In the ensuing years, he worked with most of the best-known names in the blues world, having a particular regard for his work on Muddy Waters’ “Father’s & Sons” album.

Mr. Lay's unique style of drumming can be heard on over 40 recordings for the famed Chess Records label with the most prominent names in the world of blues. He has recently toured the major Blues festivals around the US and Europe with the Chess Records All-Stars.

Read more




Maria Muldaur Maria Muldaur
Buddy Guy Buddy Guy
guitar, electric
Howlin' Wolf Howlin' Wolf
John Mayall John Mayall
Slim Harpo Slim Harpo
Elvin Bishop Elvin Bishop
guitar, electric
Kenny Neal Kenny Neal
guitar, electric
Lowell Fulson Lowell Fulson
guitar, electric

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.