“Yes,there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”
― Led Zeppelin
From my old online journal The Daily Epiphany – Friday, June 18, 1999
I’ve spent the last two days fighting panic and simply writing about it is too much so I’ll substitute for a real entry by typing in some highlights from the liner notes on my Ironing Board Sam CD.
Ironing Board Sam’s real name is Sammie Moore and he was born in 1939 at Rockhill, S. C. He spent a year-and-a-half in college but had to dropout when he got married….
In 1959, Sam moved to Memphis where he picked up his colorful “nom de disque.” Sam didn’t have the regular legs to support his electric keyboard, so he improvised and used an ironing board. He didn’t like it at first, but he was tagged Ironing Board Sam and it stuck. In fact one of the clubs where he worked gave away a free ironing board on the nights he played.
Sam’s first step toward becoming an “entertainer” occurred in March of 1978 when he made plans to play 500 feet over Jackson Square in a hot air balloon. Sam was going to run cables down to a PA system and an amplifier on the ground while he played up in the clouds. However, after tacking posters up all over New Orleans, the show had to be canceled because it was too windy and the balloon couldn’t be stabilized.
Sam’s next piece of self-promotion involved a 1,500 gallon tank filled with water. He devised a way to play underwater and debuted the show at the 1979 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
“I went on the road with the tank,” said Sam. “But I found out the tank was too big to get into a lot of clubs.”
In 1982, Sam was back in New Orleans but he was still finding it hard to work. At that point he developed yet another novel form of self-promotion.
“People didn’t want to hear live music,” said Sam. They just wanted to play records or the jukebox, I was hurting so I decided to become, “The Human Jukebox.” I built a giant jukebox that I fit into with my keyboard and amplifier. I had slots built into it where people put money when they wanted me to play their request.”
Sam was playing on the streets in the French Quarter for several months when fate stepped in. The producers of “Real People” saw Sam and shot a feature on him that aired nationally. In the mean time though, the police arrested Sam on a noise violation which took him off the streets….
—-Jeff Hannusch, June 1995
I like the record, good, old-fashioned blues. It would be great to be able to sit down with the guy, have a chat. I bet he has some stories to tell.