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Sam, The Man

Stuart Bailie | 18:05 UK time, Saturday, 19 January 2008

Stuart Bailie.jpgI’m listening to an old recording of Just Five singing ‘Well Don’t That Beat Them All’ and it’s just about perfect. It has the rough and tumble rhythm that young men with scruffy hair made around 1964. It is one of the rare artefacts that we have to remember the Maritime scene in Belfast. And most importantly, it’s proof that Sam Mahood had a voice that really was hard to beat.

just5.jpgComing from a later generation, I never saw Sam live on stage. And while I always hoped that I’d meet him some day and I’d hear some of those great old stories, that’s not going to happen now. Sam passed away on December 23, another piece of our cultural history that’s not been celebrated like it should.

According to his peers, Sam was a classic soul belter, arguably better than some of our more famous sons. Terri Hooley likes to talk about the theatre of Sam shows. Mahood would use a lot of those James Brown moves, falling on the stage, feigning exhaustion, demanding that the audience cheer all the harder to revive him. With his wavy red hair, his buckle shoes and a woman’s furry jacket, he must have surprised Belfast, never mind his hometown of Ballymena.

sam180.jpgThere will be a musical celebration for Sam at the King’s Head, Belfast on Sunday, January 27. The likes of Ronnie Greer, Rab McCullough, Terri Hooley and Lee Hedley will feature, and some of the old Just Five heads will also be involved. It starts at 3pm.

I’m not sure how many Just Five tracks are commercially available, but ‘Don’t That Beat Them All’ and ‘I Will Have You’ are included on the excellent CD, ‘Belfast Beat, Maritime Blues’, compiled by Roger Armstrong, with sleevenotes by Owen McFadden. The CD booklet uses an old Just Five image from City Week / City Beat, the local publication which covered the local music scene so passionately. I’d love to know where the paper’s old photo archive has gone. It’s another part of our story that needs to be preserved, to be valued.

Stu Bailie presents The Late show on Radio Ulster, every Friday from 10pm until midnight. See his playlist here.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 03:55 PM on 28 Jan 2008,
  • leslie wrote:

Hi... just a wee note to say that there are holdings for CityWeek, CityBeat in Belfast Central Libraries Newspaper Library... Can't recall date holdings at present, but there are several years bound & stored & avaliable to be read at a moments notice.

... & Sam Mahood was most definitely a legend in his own lunchtime. I never saw him 1st time around, but saw him with the reformed The Soul Truth in The Front Page in the early '90's. I didn't know what to expect, but to see, hear & talk with our very own "James Brown", was more than i could've hoped for. He was a gr8 musician... They were a gr8 soul band... He'll be sadly misssed...

Just a wee note of interest, when Sam decided to "retire" from the band it was none other than Foy Vance who took over on vocals. Quite apt really.


Leslie.

  • 2.
  • At 01:00 PM on 06 Feb 2008,
  • Rusty wrote:


Hi, First of all,a Big thank you must go to the great Lee Hedley for all the hard work he put into organizing the fabulous Tribute Gig for Belfast's King of Soul& Blues, SAM MAHOOD.
Also an extra special Thank You to Lee's lovely wife Marcy and their wonderful children, who worked so hard the whole evening,much appreciated.
A massive Thank You to ALL the Bands who entertained us so brilliantly and who gave their time for free.
Not to forget Terri Hooley,a Big Thank You for his great introductions and 'Unique' poetry about Sam & Belfast.
An Extra Special Thankyou must go to ALL the lifelong friends and fans of Sam's who turned up and made it such a 'Memorable' Gig.
Sam would have loved it and he'd have been very proud to have received such a wonderful Tribute.
Great one Lee,(Don't forget you can catch The Lee Hedley Band every 1st Friday at the King's Head).
Thanks to everyone involved and for your great generosity on the night towards "Sams Foundation Of Soul" to
establish a fitting & lasting Tribute to The Great Man.
Rusty.

(Just to say Sam was born and bred in Banbridge, a place he was very proud of)

  • 3.
  • At 10:11 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • Errol wrote:

Just to say,so sorry to learn of Sams death. He was an inspiration to me, as a 13/14 year old pupil at Banbridge Academy. He was the harbinger of the colourful 60's in Banbridge.
With long curly red hair and orange jacket, he cracked the conservative,grey Banbridge of the early sixties.
He certainly did for me.
Should have sussed he was a musician but then I was young.
Learned later what he did for a living.
Respect.

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