Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Inductee 2015

In the early 1960’s Mr. Lay began recording and performing with the founding fathers of blues,Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. The recordings Lay made during this time, (including Muddy Waters’ Fathers and Sons album recorded in the 70’s), are considered to be among the definitive works from the careers of Waters and Wolf.

In the mid 60’s Mr. Lay was persuaded to join with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and recorded and toured extensively with this important blues group. Bob Dylan (with Sam Lay as his drummer) was the first performer to introduce electric-rock at the Newport Folk Festival. Lay also recorded with Dylan – most notably on the Highway 61 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.

In the late 1980’s Sam Lay was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis. He was recently inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame in Los Angeles, and the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. He was nominated eight times for the coveted W. C. Handy Award for “Best Instrumentalist” including a 2005 nomination.

Mr. Lay has two  recordings with his own band on Appaloosa Records, Evidence Records, and two recordings on Alligator Records with the Siegel-Schwall Band and was nominated in 2000 for a GRAMMY Award for his performances on the “Howlin’ Wolf Tribute” CD, and was honored by the Recording Academy January 2002 for the ” Legends and Hero’s Award” for his significant musical contributions.

Mr. Lay was prominently featured on a PBS-TV broadcast of 7 episodes on the “History of the Blues” produced by Academy Award winning director, Martin Scorsese. An award winning feature documentary, Sam Lay in Bluesland, by GRAMMY nominated Film Director John Anderson, recently premiered to great success at the 2015 Chicago International Music and Movie Festival. 

Text of telegram sent to Sam from Bob Dylan when Sam won the Hero's Award from the Recording Academy

Congratulations, sam on your heroes award.

It’s good you are being recognized. It’s so well-deserved. Walter, wolf and muddy, they must have known it too – that you’re second to none – your flawless musicianship and unsurpassed timing, maestro with the sticks and brushes. Your hats, coats, shirts, and your walking shoes. That’s no small thing either. (Thanks, by the way for the striped shirt and red tie. When i play drums i wear that stuff and people are surprised and impressed that my drumming improves.)

Congratulations again sam and thanks for backing me up on what many say is the best album i’ve ever made. Yours truly,

Bob Dylan