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  1. #1

    Singin' Sammy Ward

    Might anyone know any biographical facts about Singin' Sammy Ward? I tried Wiki but it was not very helpful. thanks to everyone in advance!

  2. #2
    I'm sure there's info out there on the net.
    Sammy came to the UK to perform at a Northern Soul Weekender here back in 1990 (he was recording for Ian Levine's Motorcity label at the time). I met up with him as I was the tour manager for another visiting US soul artist. He was a fun guy who was very approachable (though he did seem to enjoy drinking beer a little more than he should have). After his show, he was so energised by his reception that he joined the crowd in the venue & spent time chatting & dancing … I have a great picture of him enjoying himself on the dancefloor somewhere here.

  3. #3
    Sammy went on the big 1962 Motown tour. A book was produced that documented this tour & must contain info on & pictures of Sammy.

  4. #4
    Here's my photo of Sammy enjoying himself in the UK in 1990 ...
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  5. #5
    You are correct. I have the book in front of me. I will try to abstract some information from it and hopefully get this accomplished sometime tomorrow. Sit tight.

  6. #6

  7. #7

  8. #8
    An early track:


  9. #9
    Singles:
    T. 54030 A. What Makes You Love Him / Who`s The Fool. B.
    T. 54049 A. " " " " " / Don`t Take It Away. B.
    T. 54057 A. Big Joe Moe / Everybody Knew It But Me. B.
    T. 54071 A. Someday Pretty Baby / Part Time Love. B.
    S. 35004 A. Bread Winner / You`ve Got To Change. B.

    Sherri Taylor & Singin` Sammy Ward:
    M. 1004 A. Oh Lover / That`s Why I Love You So Much. B.

    UNRELEASED OR NON SINGLES:
    Before It`s Over.
    Give Me Your Love.
    That Won`t Do.
    Then You Changed.

  10. #10
    Sammy's biggest record in the UK … Detroit but not Motown ..
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  11. #11
    According to Mark Ribowsky’s Temptations book, Singin’ Sammy Ward was sent home from the Motortown revue after he was booed off at the Apollo. My favorite song by Ward was his last release for Motown “Bread Winner”.

  12. Quote Originally Posted by jboy88 View Post
    According to Mark Ribowsky’s Temptations book, Singin’ Sammy Ward was sent home from the Motortown revue after he was booed off at the Apollo. My favorite song by Ward was his last release for Motown “Bread Winner”.
    WHAT? Did he go into detail about why he was booed off?

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    WHAT? Did he go into detail about why he was booed off?
    The Apollo theater is the toughest audience you can perform for. They will boo people for even for the most mundane reason (missing a note, a lame joke, etc.). Even legends like Smokey and the Miracles & Dave Chapelle were booed off the first time they played the Apollo. I guess Singin’ Sammy couldn’t win them over.

  14. #14
    Here is the segment of Graham Bett's Motown Encyclopedia on Singin' Sammy Ward.

    Born James Woodley in Birmingham, Alabama, blues and gospel singer Sammy Ward moved to Detroit in the 1950's and secured regular work as a club singer before the decade was out. He joined Tamla in 1960, issuing What Makes You Love Him backed with That Child Is Really Wild in September the same year, the single being attributed to Singin' Sammy Ward (a moniker bestowed upon him by Berry's wife Raynoma). Before the top side had even registered with record buyers, Berry changed tack, replacing it with Who's The Fool, a song written by Berry and Smokey. The switch worked, for Who's The Fool would go on to become the only single of Sammy's that made the chart, peaking at #23 R&B. Two months later Sammy helped establish what would become a hugely successful ploy in the future, recording a duet with Sherri Taylor in Oh Lover, although the single did little and would be Sherri's only output for the company. Sammy meanwhile hung around Hitsville for a few more years, although his recorded output was quite meagre, amounting to a recording of What Makes You Love Him in October 1961, Big Joe Moe backed by Everybody Knew It But Me issued in March 1962 and, following a switch to the Soul label, Bread Winner in March 1964. None sold particularly well, not least because of Sammy's blues vocal style was out of step with the rest of the material being released.

    Sammy left Motown in the middle of the 1960's, briefly resurfacing at the Groove City label in 1968, where as Sam Ward, he recorded Stone Broke and Sister Lee. He then left the music business altogether, although he was re-discovered some 20 years or so later and recorded for Ian Levine's Motorcity label before dying some-time during the 1990s.

  15. #15
    I have in my possession Memories of the 1962 Motown Revue, a Photographic Journal Collector's Edition written by Curtis E. Woodson in 2005 produced and distributed exclusively by Fresh Communications Group, Inc., Detroit, MI.

    I will try to abstract the information included about Singin' Sammy Ward for your review.

    Page 2. Mr. Woodson was asked by a friend of his if there had been any "mosts." His response was "I was most disappointed by Sammy Ward."

    Page 28. Shows the opening night, Friday, October 26, 1962, Howard Theatre which features the performers at the first show. Singin' Sammy Ward is clearly indicated. He
    makes a comment that this banner clearly shows that contrary to popular belief, the Temptations and Stevie Wonder were NOT on the tour in October 1962.

    Page 41. Mr. Woodson states, "The deal I negotiated with Mr. Gordy called for me to be paid $75.00 per week. I thought that included lodging. After the first week in Washington, D. C., I learned that I was responsible for my lodging expenses. That meant I had to find a roommate. Since the girls were not available, Sammy suggested that we share a room. That arrangement lasted for about two weeks and then we had to part company. It seemed like the telephone would ring every minute of the hour, and that every love-sick woman on the East coast of the U. S. knew when he arrived in town and what hotel room he was in and held the answer to their problems. The few times I had to return to the room either to relax or take a shower and change clothes, was interrupted by him asking how long was I going to be here and would you call me and let me know what time will you be returning?"

    Page 47. "Sammy was not very happy with his time at Motown. He thought he would have received more support and promotion. He told me that because of his relationship with the management, his career wouldn't be going very far unless he could get away from Motown. One afternoon during rehearsals, Sammy and I were watching Marvin Gaye and he shared with me that Marvin Gaye was the only entertainer in the world who cannot dance. Anna has asked me to teach him some dance moves. I suggested that he not worry about teaching some dance moves, just teaching him how to dance."

    Page 61 (Tribute to Singin' Sammy Ward).

    "Singin' Sammy Ward died a few years ago and a friend of his shared with me that Sammy would tell people that he travelled with the Motortown Special and no one would believe him and he didn't have any photographs placing him on the tour. The next six pages are dedicated to his memory."

    Page 63. "Singin" Sammy Ward was probably the first entertainer to wear pastel colored suits while performing. I asked him once where he found those suits but he just said that I wouldn't believe him if he told me. I later found out that he would purchase old suits from the Goodwill store, have them tailored to fit and he would dye them. This story was confirmed in a conversation I had with a good friend of his as well as by his son when I talked with him. One morning we were checking into one of the many hotels on the circuit and I noticed he signed the registry as James Woodley, Sr. I asked him if he was hiding from anyone special. He explained that Sammy Ward was the stage name he created out of admiration for Sammy Davis, Jr. and the gospel singer, Clara Ward." The picture is imprinted Everytime Sammy got deep into the blues, the women in the audience would just love him more.

    Page 64. The picture is imprinted Like all entertainers, Sammy liked to interact with his audience and get them into the mood for love.

    Page 65. The picture is imprinted Here's Sammy Ward explaining to Choker Campbell and the base played how he would like to have a particular song played.

    Pages 66/67. A picture of Sammy with lots of suits hanging in the background. Mr. Woodson further states about this picture "When the base player didn't seem to understand Sammy's request, Sammy grabbed one of the guitars and showed him the exact way he wanted the song played. The longer I stayed on the road it became clear that the artists who worked at Motown had to be multi-talented. The suits hanging in the background are a reminder that everybody had to wear a suit during their performance, take it off and hang it up to dry overnight because he was probably going to wear that same suit during the next day's performance. There was no such thing as overnight cleaners. And if you wanted creases in your pants, you had to fold them up and put them under your mattress."
    Last edited by woodward; 09-20-2019 at 02:52 PM. Reason: Fine tuning.

  16. #16
    Thank you, jsmith. I've done a little research on him, but my search skills aren't as sharp as they could be, I'll give it another shot. It's and interesting to know he was a happy, nice guy. The beer part doesn't surprise me. lol

  17. #17
    wow! thanks so much!!

  18. #18

    You guys are terrific!! Thank you very much!

    Thank all of you for taking the time to help me. I appreciate it so much and am delighted with all you have taught me about Singin' Sammy!! Poor man! Booed out of the Apollo! lol

  19. #19
    He's in good company. James Brown, Luther Vandross, Dave Chappelle were also booed off stage at the Apollo.

  20. #20
    What a lot of great fascinating information about a singer who I never heard of until I bought that blues album, “switched on blues,“ which motown released in the early 70s I think. It was a very odd album which I never knew about until much later and I had trouble finding it. But it’s full of great great stuff and I think Sammy Ward, like Gino Parks, is definitely an unsung hero from the early days.

    I think some of the tracks were augmented with additional instrumentation from what I’ve read. But it’s a great album and I think may still be the only LP that ever included both sides of Stevie wonder’s early single I call it pretty Music but the old people call it the blues, with both parts one and two!

    To Woodward especially, thanks for the great information!

  21. #21
    DC back in October 1962 … the show @ the Howard …
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  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by jsmith View Post
    DC back in October 1962 … the show @ the Howard …
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    Thank you for producing this. This is IDENTICAL to the hand painted sign that Mr. Woodson has in his book. He commented beneath the sign the following:

    "This should set the record straight for those music 'historians' who believe the Temptations and Stevie Wonder were on the tour in October 1962."

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by jsmith View Post
    DC back in October 1962 … the show @ the Howard …
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    I'm not sure how accurate that actually is. The Supreme's Let Me Go The Right Way was not released until November of 1962.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    What a lot of great fascinating information about a singer who I never heard of until I bought that blues album, “switched on blues,“ which motown released in the early 70s I think. It was a very odd album which I never knew about until much later and I had trouble finding it. But it’s full of great great stuff and I think Sammy Ward, like Gino Parks, is definitely an unsung hero from the early days.

    I think some of the tracks were augmented with additional instrumentation from what I’ve read. But it’s a great album and I think may still be the only LP that ever included both sides of Stevie wonder’s early single I call it pretty Music but the old people call it the blues, with both parts one and two!

    To Woodward especially, thanks for the great information!
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    The early '70s release of "Switched on Blues" must have been a 2nd pressing. I'm sure I saw it as early as 1965.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by SatansBlues View Post
    I'm not sure how accurate that actually is. The Supreme's Let Me Go The Right Way was not released until November of 1962.
    Likely, it was on the list of upcoming releases so was already being promoted as the current single. From all the songs listed here, this definitely looks like an ad for 1962.

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by woodward View Post
    Thank you for producing this. This is IDENTICAL to the hand painted sign that Mr. Woodson has in his book. He commented beneath the sign the following:

    "This should set the record straight for those music 'historians' who believe the Temptations and Stevie Wonder were on the tour in October 1962."
    IIRC Stevie and the Tempts were only on the run of shows at the Apollo. Albeit, the Tempts were only there to sing background vocals for Mary Wells.

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by jboy88 View Post
    IIRC Stevie and the Tempts were only on the run of shows at the Apollo. Albeit, the Tempts were only there to sing background vocals for Mary Wells.
    I think Stevie did a few shows on the 1962 tour including the Apollo.

    The Tempts sang backup for Mary during the 1963 tour, I believe, as seen in the familiar Apollo clip. She has no backup vocalists on the live album recorded at the Apollo in 1962.

  28. #28
    Satansblues, it is very accurate as I copied it from an actual copy of the Washington Afro-American dated 23rd October 62. Why would you think that the Supremes couldn't be performing live a track that was about to become their new 45 … the fact it wasn't actually released for a few more days didn't stop promo copies of the 45 being out with radio stations or the Supremes including their next release in their live act.

  29. #29
    The Motortown Revue show went out on the road for an extended period, playing chitlin circuit theatres in most big cities (except on the west coast).
    As the tour would last 2 / 3 months in all, acts would leave it to go back to Detroit for recording sessions & the like. If an act left, BG would send another to replace it. ALSO, if a new act (say Jimmy Ruffin in the mid 60's) or a 'cold' act got a hit, they'd be added to a Revue ensemble that was already on tour as this helped promote the record & the act.

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by jsmith View Post
    Satansblues, it is very accurate as I copied it from an actual copy of the Washington Afro-American dated 23rd October 62. Why would you think that the Supremes couldn't be performing live a track that was about to become their new 45 … the fact it wasn't actually released for a few more days didn't stop promo copies of the 45 being out with radio stations or the Supremes including their next release in their live act.
    I recall reading where Berry Gordy himself was editing the song himself the day that the tour left Detroit.

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