Sammy Price

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Sammy Price
Wilbur De Paris, Sammy Price, Sidney De Paris, Eddie Barefield, and Charlie Traeger, Jimmy Ryan's (Club), New York, ca. July 1947 (William P. Gottlieb 02031).jpg
Price (background) with Wilbur De Paris (left), Sidney De Paris, Eddie Barefield and Charlie Traeger, Jimmy Ryan's (Club), New York, c. July 1947. Photograph by William P. Gottlieb.
Background information
Born(1908-10-06)October 6, 1908
Honey Grove, Texas, United States
DiedApril 14, 1992(1992-04-14) (aged 83)
New York City, United States
GenresJazz, jump blues
Occupation(s)Musician, dancer
InstrumentsPiano, vocals
Associated actsHenry "Red" Allen

Samuel Blythe Price (October 6, 1908 – April 14, 1992)[1] was an American jazz, boogie-woogie and jump blues pianist and bandleader.[2] Price's playing is dark, mellow, and relaxed rather than percussive, and he was a specialist at creating the appropriate mood and swing for blues and rhythm and blues recordings.[3]

Life and career[edit]

Price was born in Honey Grove, Texas, United States.[4] Price formally studied the piano with Booker T. Washington's daughter, Portia Marshall Washington (1883–1978). In the mid-1920s, when he was employed in a Dallas music store, Price wrote to Paramount Records recommending Blind Lemon Jefferson to the label.[5]

During his early career, he was a singer and dancer[6] in local venues in the Dallas area. Price lived and played jazz in Kansas City, Chicago and Detroit. In 1938 he was hired by Decca Records as a session sideman on piano, assisting singers such as Trixie Smith and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.[7]

Price was most noteworthy for his work on Decca Records with his own band, known as the Texas Bluesicians, that included fellow musicians Don Stovall and Emmett Berry.[7] He was the accompanist on countless recording sessions for the Decca blues, race, and rhythm-and-blues catalogs, and featuring such singers as Trixie Smith ("Trixie Blues"), Blue Lu Barker ("Georgia Grind"), and Cousin Joe ("Box Car Shorty"). Price recorded under his own name, with gospel singers (Rosetta Tharpe, Evelyn Knight) and with Lester Young, toured Europe with Jimmy Rushing, appeared at numerous jazz festivals, and performed in a Broadway play starring Tallulah Bankhead (Clash By Night).[3] Price also had a decade-long partnership with Henry "Red" Allen.

During the 1960s, he was active in the law, politics, and civil rights advocating for the homeless. In Harlem he was organizing street-level campaigns for Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr., President Lyndon Johnson and Senator Robert F. Kennedy.[8]

Later in his life, Price partnered with the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, and was the headline entertainment at the Crawdaddy Restaurant, a New Orleans themed restaurant in New York in the mid-1970s. Both Benny Goodman and Buddy Rich played with Price at this venue. In the 1980s he switched to playing in the bar of Boston's Copley Plaza.[7]

He died of a heart attack in April 1992, at home in Harlem, in New York City, at the age of 83.


  • "The Goon Drag"


  1. ^ Scott Yanow. "Sammy Price | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-10-06.
  2. ^ Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 181. ISBN 1-904041-96-5.
  3. ^ a b Ross., Russell (1971). Jazz style in Kansas City and the Southwest. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0520018532. OCLC 205031.
  4. ^ "The Dead Rock Stars Club 1992 - 1993". Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  5. ^ Robert Palmer (1981). Deep Blues. Penguin Books. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-14-006223-6.
  6. ^ Wynn, Ron (1994). Ron Wynn (ed.). All Music Guide to Jazz. M. Erlewine, V. Bogdanov. San Francisco: Miller Freeman. p. 533. ISBN 0-87930-308-5.
  7. ^ a b c Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues - From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. pp. 156–157. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
  8. ^ "Sammy Price". Retrieved 2018-03-05.

External links[edit]