Delta Blues Drummer Sam Carr Remembered

By Andy DoerschukPublished September 22, 2009

Delta blues lost a cornerstone last Saturday, September 18, when Sam Carr died of complications of congestive heart failure at Greenbough Nursing Home in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He was 83.

Born Samuel Lee McCollum in 1926 (his surname changed when he was adopted as a toddler), the former drummer for such legendary blues artists as Sonny Boy Willamson II, Buddy Guy, and his own father Robert Nighthawk, Carr remained active throughout his life. He appeared on 23 albums just since the year 2000, including Let The Good Times Roll, the final release by Sam Carr’s Delta Jukes, in 2007, and performed on stage as recently as last month at a celebration honoring him near Clarksdale.

Carr was awarded Mississippi’s Governor’s Award For Excellence In The Arts in 2007, enjoyed multiple nominations for the prestigious W.C. Handy Blues Award, and was one of only two drummers to appear on the cover of Living Blues Magazine in the publication’s 40-year history.

Life was hardly easy for the former sharecropper, despite his credentials. “I've lived a rich man’s life in poor man’s shoes,” Carr once said. Visitation will be 5:00–7:00 p.m. this Friday, and a service is 11:00 a.m. Saturday. Burial will be at Thompson Chapel in Dundee, Mississippi.